Pizza is one of my favorite things in life, and always has been. I would like to actually shake the mans hand who invented this ingenius creation of sauce, cheese and crust. Really – I might hug him (or her). It’s always a crowd pleaser – you can eat it plain – you can add toppings – you can make it thick – you can make it thin – you can make it circle – you can make it square. There’s really not much that you CAN’T do with it! It may be one of the most versatile foods ever.
A few years ago for my birthday, Dave’s mom bestowed upon us our very first pizza stone and I never knew how much a slab of stone could change someone’s life until this moment. We would make pizza on a cookie sheet or basic pizza pan, and it always tasted good. But the stone – the stone! OMG! Then we started to experiement with different crusts, finding one that was our favorite, and then Dave started getting really fancy doing things like ‘priming the dough’ to make it rise perfectly and have the perfect balance of crispiness and softness, the way the professionals do it. Our version of ‘priming’ involves sticking the dough in a trashbag submerged in warm water in the sink for about a half hour – I’m sure there are better ways to do it, but if you’re in a time crunch it works very well! Otherwise you can just leave the dough out for a few hours, and let it get big and puffy (very professional terminology here :)) It really does make a difference!
We love the basics – margharita, pepperoni, maybe a meat lovers if we’re feeling adventurous. But this idea for a new kind of pizza came to me, inspired by this great recipe I got from Picky Palate for Spinach Dip Bread Bowls. YUM. Perfect appetizer for anyone looking for a new one to throw into the rotation. I decided to swap out the Spinach with Kale and use the dip as the ‘sauce’ for the pizza (sounds sinful I know) and then Dave suggested adding yet another twist to this already seemingly twisty pizza – big chunks of crispy pancetta. Yes. We went there. And it was awesome.
Kale and Krispy Pancetta Pizza
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Cups Kale, coarsely chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 Cup light sour cream
2 Tablespoons fresh shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ball of your favorite pizza dough
4 slices of pancetta, cut 1/4″ thick, chopped into small pieces
4 – 8oz Shredded mozzarella cheese
(it’s really your preference – the ‘sauce’ is pretty rich, so you may not want to use as much cheese as you typically would with a regular pizza – or maybe you would! to each his own!)
1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees
2) Prepare your dip: Heat 2 tbsp oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir 2 cups of the kale until wilted, about 3 minutes then add garlic, cook and stir for another minute then turn heat off. Place cream cheese, sour cream, cooked kale and garlic, parmesan cheese, garlic salt, salt and pepper into a medium bowl. Mix until well combined. Set aside.
3) Heat the other tbsp. of oil in the same skillet you prepared the kale in over medium heat. Cook the chopped pancetta in the skillet until crispy (about 3-5 minutes depending on how small it’s chopped) At the very end, right when the pancetta is about done, take the other 2 cups of chopped kale and place in the skillet with the pancetta, allowing it to wilt just a little (about a minute) It will cook more in the oven while the pizza is baking.
4) Assemble your pizza: roll out your pizza dough and place on the stone (or baking sheet). Layer the kale dip, then the shredded cheese, and then the kale/pancetta mixture on the top. Cook in preheated oven for about 10 minutes until cheese becomes golden on top.
Wowie Wow Wow Wow. Good stuff guys! The kale and the pancetta worked so well together – kale can be a little bit on the bitter side, but the saltiness of the pancetta really balanced the bitterness out. And the creamy kale dip base was such a yummy departure from your standard red sauce. So good!
I think even Popeye would swap his spinach for kale and put it on a pizza – that’s how good it was.