Pizza… It’s what America’s having for dinner!José N. Harris, author Mi Vida
Here in California we are on week 3 of high heat, high winds, and smoky conditions from nearby fires. Most days it’s too smoky to open our windows or use our window box AC unit, so we’ve been sweltering inside, watching plumes of smoke pass by our windows. We had a one day break in the smoke so were able to use our oven. Of course we used this opportunity to make a pizza!
We had a pre-made corn crust in our fridge taunting me for days that I could not use the oven. I love the buttery flavor, texture, and thickness of this corn crust, but you can use any crust you like. Here’s a link to an easy homemade dough. Most grocery stores also carry pre-made dough in either the refrigerator or freezer sections. Some are quite high in sugar or oil. The beauty of making your own is that you can control the ingredients.
I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand and also use as many healthful veggies as possible, while still respecting flavor combinations and not overwhelming the dish. I also wanted to add a little extra protein, so I created a vegan pesto using almond milk ricotta cheese. You can substitute vegan cream cheese instead. Both versions are super yummy.
If you are lucky enough to have fresh basil, feel free to use more basil and less kale or vice versa. I prefer dino kale, but curly kale works too. If using curly kale, massage it a minute before tossing it into your food processor.
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 medium size red onion, diced
- 3-5 stalks of dino kale, rinsed and stems removed
- handful basil leaves (pictured above, center) rinsed and stems removed
- 1/2 package vegan ricotta cheese (I used this one from Kite Hill)
- dash sea salt, dash pepper
- splash of lemon juice
- Place kale and basil into the bowl of a food processor with the S-blade attached. Pulse a few times.
- Add the remaining ingredients and process on low until combined. Swipe the inside of the food processor bowl to ensure all ingredients process together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, as you prefer. You can add a dash more lemon juice if you want the mixture to be creamier. Don’t overdo it.
You can use any veggies you have on hand to top your pizza. The beauty of pizza is its versatility. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes are one of our favorites.
- 1 medium zucchini
- handful cherry tomatoes
- dash sea salt, sprinkle red pepper flakes
- I prefer thin slices of zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler, I go around the outside of a washed zucchini and slice off the skin and “meat” of the zucchini until I see mostly seeds. The seeds can be bitter, so I don’t use the inside “core” of the zucchini. I do eat the colorful outer skin. I end up with long slices of zucchini that are too hard to eat, so I slice the thin slices in thirds, so they are more bite size.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. This releases more flavor from the tomatoes.
- Spread a layer of pesto mixture onto your pizza crust. If you are using a thicker crust, as we are with this corn crust, you can make the pesto layer much thicker and your pizza will still bake nicely in the center. If your pizza is thin crust, you may want to use a thinner layer of pesto (and add less lemon so the pesto mix itself is thicker). For thin crust, you may also want to bake it for 1/2 the time with just the pesto mix before adding your toppings.
- Adorn with tomatoes (symmetrical pattern of tomato shapes optional). Add zucchini slices or other veggies of choice.
- Bake in a hot oven. We put our oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking our pizza for 13 minutes.
- Slice, eat, and enjoy!