CSA Share, and a new use for kale: Sausage, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Pesto Pizza
Oh, summer. You’ve slipped by and for the past few weeks, we’ve been so busy with house-building activities that we’ve picked up our share late in the evening, way past when your sunlight fades — leaving me ravenous and ready to just eat already rather than set up my lights to take photos of the CSA vegetables. Last week, however, we took a day off on our pick-up day and I did squeak in some pictures before the hunger monster in my belly roared. And what a bounty it was: tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, bok choy, field greens, kale and beets! Yum!!
And our fruit share is really shaping up to be wonderful (as you can tell, the past lean weeks of a single bunch of rhubarb is long gone): gorgeous drippingly-ripe peaches, Bartlett pears, Italian prune plums (my favorite kind!), and luscious grapes that were a real treat – they had almost a floral note, especially the red ones.
I think September (around here at least) actually boasts the best produce of the season…gorgeous summer vegetables, lots of luscious ripe fruit.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you probably know that we’re big fans of kale in this house, and I’m always looking for new ways to cook it besides the standard saute-with-garlic-and-olive-oil. We make this salad a lot (it’s one of our favorites!) and I’ve tried kale chips, which are quite good (especially since my current pregnancy cravings seem to center around salty things. Tortilla chips, come to mama: after all, you’re a whole grain, right? And don’t even let me near a bag of “Baked, Lightly Salted” Kettle Chips — it takes all my strength not to devour the whole thing. And the funny thing is, I wasn’t even a huge potato chip fan before getting pregnant…)
Recently, on one of our Friday night pizza nights, I decided to blanch some kale leaves and use them in place of basil for a pesto to spread on the pizza crust — and it was fabulous! (And, a nice heartier pizza to take you into these cooler evenings of early fall.)
The kale pesto was delicious on its own, nice and garlicky, but also tasted wonderful with some Piggery hot Italian sausage and fennel from the previous week’s CSA which I’d caramelized a bit beforehand. Fennel goes naturally with pork, and kale is a great pairing with sausage, so I had hopes that the pizza would be one for the rotation. And oh, it was: sweet, salty, garlicky and so good.
The pesto is also delicious spread on bruschetta, or folded into an omelet with ricotta cheese – I can attest to both. 🙂
Sausage, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Pesto Pizza
1 pound pizza dough (your favorite recipe or mine)
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 small or 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced and sauteed with olive oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar over low heat until soft and caramelized
kale pesto (recipe below)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500 degrees, preferably with a baking stone on the bottom rack.
Roll out the pizza dough into a round on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel (or, alternately, you can roll it out on a piece of parchment and place the parchment on the peel – the pizza can bake on the parchment, directly placed on the stone, if you like.) Top the dough with kale pesto (you may have some left over), shredded mozzarella and cheddar, caramelized fennel and sausage.
Transfer the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the crust is golden and cheese is bubbly, about 8 minutes.
2 cups (packed) kale, blanched for 2 minutes first in boiling salted water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
good pinch salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the blanched kale, cheese, garlic, and salt in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Puree until fairly smooth, then while the motor is running, drizzle in the olive oil until a smooth, loose paste forms (you can add more olive oil if you like, but I found 1/4 cup to give me the consistency I was looking for.) Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed.