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CSA Share, and a new use for kale: Sausage, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Pesto Pizza

September 11, 2009
tags: ,

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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.

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I think September (around here at least) actually boasts the best produce of the season…gorgeous summer vegetables, lots of luscious ripe fruit.

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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.)

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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.

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The pesto is also delicious spread on bruschetta, or folded into an omelet with ricotta cheese – I can attest to both.🙂

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Sausage, Caramelized Fennel, and Kale Pesto Pizza

view printable recipe

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

Kale Pesto

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2009 9:18 am

    Hi Amy: The pesto sounds fantastic. What a brilliant use for kale. The pizza, as usual, looks wonderful. I hope you’re doing well!

  2. September 11, 2009 10:32 am

    Oh, yum! I love kale pesto on pasta, but I’ve never tried it on pizza–I’ll definitely have to do this.

  3. September 11, 2009 11:29 am

    Love seeing your share as always. That pizza looks lovely. I’ve only recently fallen in love with fennel and it looks great on that pizza.

  4. September 11, 2009 4:19 pm

    that pizza looks amazing! i am jealous of your vegetable stock =)

  5. September 13, 2009 7:45 pm

    The kate pesto sounds so intriguing. I love all of these flavors and will be trying this very soon. Thanks for sharing. I would love for you to join me on diningwithdebbie.blogspot.com for Crock Pot Wednesday. We are all about good food and ease of preparation.

  6. September 16, 2009 3:31 pm

    I love these fruit and veg photo’s… so colourful!
    And that Pizza looks AMAZING!! yum!

  7. September 16, 2009 6:35 pm

    Kale pesto???? Oh that’s a fantastic idea! This is definitely going to be my next use for kale!

  8. September 17, 2009 6:26 pm

    kale pesto–great idea!!! looks delish🙂

  9. Helen in CA permalink
    September 18, 2009 2:50 am

    OMG that was good.

    Used a saute mix instead of kale (what my CSA had for greens this week: think grown up salad mix).

    And then made a fig/grape & brie smaller pizza for dessert ( from White on Rice Couple
    http://www.whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/fig-brie-cheese-pizza/#more-7635 )

    What a supper.

  10. Stacisays permalink
    September 19, 2009 3:06 pm

    Just made the kale pesto recipe this afternoon and it is bright green and delicious. I made a more complicated version with last year’s kale, and I must say that this pesto is easier and tastier. Thanks Amy!

  11. September 21, 2009 4:44 pm

    What beautiful pictures of your veggies and fruit! You are quite the foodie photographer! I especially like the collage – a very cool effect.

  12. September 28, 2009 3:50 am

    Oh wow- am loving the very creative (and healthy!) pizza. Also, love the shot of the fruit- there’s one in nearly every basic color!

  13. September 29, 2009 2:33 pm

    Oh my goodness, this look so perfect!

  14. bloom permalink
    October 1, 2009 7:30 am

    Your pictures are just gorgeous. And this pizza…I must try this weekend. We just picked up our CSA share yesterday..the veggies are ripe and waiting.. yeah!!

  15. Jessica permalink
    October 2, 2009 2:00 pm

    Have you thought about entering something like this in Brighter Planet’s Mastering the Art of Sustainable Cooking Contest? They’re looking for stories about people reducing their “foodprint,” so your CSA experiences and recipes would fit right in!
    Check it out here: http://blog.brighterplanet.com/sustainable-cooking/

  16. coffee365 permalink
    October 8, 2009 8:52 pm

    Kale makes delicious “chips”. Wash and dry the leaves, lay out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sald, bake for 15 mins at 350 and enjoy. Amazing!

  17. October 17, 2009 8:29 am

    I can’t wait to try this versatile pizza recipe, especially the kale pesto.

    Your photographs are *so* beautiful. I love the range of rich early fall colors.

  18. Christine permalink
    January 13, 2010 4:16 pm

    I have to tell you – I made this when you first posted it, and have made it again several times since them – it’s a great recipe. Man – that kale pesto is a thing of beauty though – so delicious with a perfect balance. I just sat down to a lunch of rustic bread toast, spread with a thick layer of kale pesto with a fried egg (left the yolk kind of runny) on top and just a little sharp cheddar grated over. Fantastic! That pesto is so versatile and I’m so grateful for it – thanks!
    Hope you and the new baby are settling in well – can’t wait till you resurface and we get to see more of her!

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