Back when I waited tables in a pizza place, we prided ourselves on the variety of pizzas we could provide our loyal customers. We had an inordinate number of topping choices to sprinkle over the spicy sauce and mozzarella, and a choice of thick or super-thick crust. (Thin crust wasn’t a thing in the ’70s.)
But things have changed in the pizza world. Since then pizza has broken out of the tomato sauce and mozzarella box. The most adventuresome pizza I’ve tried so far uses no sauce or cheese at all. Recently, I put together a pizza with a very simple mixture of white beans, kale and garlic. It was stellar.
The idea came from a cookbook titled Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. In Robertson’s book, the mixture used broccoli rabe instead of kale. Because organic broccoli rabe was impossible to find, I decided to substitute organic kale. It supplies the same sort of bitter counterflavor to the garlic and beans, but is much easier to find. The beans supply protein and the kale, of course, supplies lots of vitamins and minerals. I didn’t miss the sauce at all.
If you use prepared pizza dough, this goes together pretty fast. It’s a tasty and filling weeknight meal. For this recipe I used Whole Foods’ organic whole wheat pizza dough (it’s usually in their deli area). If you’re in the Salt Lake area, Epicurean Chefs’ pizza dough is fantastic. In general, prepared dough that you press into a pizza pan yourself is far better than the frozen variety that’s already pressed into pizza form.
Meatless Monday: White Bean and Kale Pizza
- One bunch kale, washed, woody stems removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
- red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pizza dough
- About an hour before you plan to start the pizza, take the refrigerated dough out of your fridge and let it “proof” at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Cook the kale in boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the kale, beans, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Sprinkle a little cornmeal (or flour) onto a 15″ round pizza pan or 14″x10″ rectangular baking sheet. Place the dough ball in the center of the pan. Sprinkle some cornmeal or flour over the top of the dough and roll the dough out using a rolling pin. Don’t worry about it looking perfect. Alternatively, you can use your hands and fingers to press the dough out to the edges of your pizza pan. Bake the crust in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little olive oil. Spread the kale/bean mixture on top, to about 1/2 inch or so from the edge.
- Bake until the crust is browned, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
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