Spicy Sausage and Kale Pizza (And Tips for Rolling out Store Bought Dough)

20120909-194138.jpg How were your weekends??

Yesterday, I got my butt kicked at the climbing gym. Tired [and somewhat dejected], I began to plan dinner, knowing that I had a fresh bunch of red kale waiting for me in the refrigerator crisper.

Kale is, like, such a trendy superfood these days. It's in smoothies, it's been made into a chip, it's eaten raw in salads (although, I really can't get over the texture of it). Kale contains vitamin C, tons of antioxidants (in the form of vitamin K), iron, calcium, Vitamin A, and essential carotenoids. What is a carotenoid? I don't know. Google it. The best part is, kale is hearty, so it's available in the fall when other delicious vegetables are hard to come by. Hooray for kale! Let's make you into a delicious pizza.

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Let's add fresh mozzerella, tomato sauce, and something spicy. One of my all time favorite things to add to homemade pizza is sausage. But this is no ordinary store bought sausage. This is not a sausage/supreme pizza that you order from Dominoes drunkenly. Gross. No, we're going to Sandra Lee it and add delicious spices to make it more flavorful and super savory. You will need:

  • 2 links store bought hot Italian sausage (about 1 lb)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 tbsp red pepper flakes (this will be to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder (you can substitute with paprika or chili powder)
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for the pan

Cut the sausage link casing and remove the inside meat from both links. Add the dry spice ingredients and give it a good smush or two with your hands so that everything's mixed up, but try to keep an eye on it so as not to overmix. It will feel kind of gross. That's okay, you can wash your hands later.

In a shallow saute pan, heat up some olive oil on medium high. Once this is hot, transfer the raw sausage mixture into the pan. Working quickly, spread the sausage out across the bottom of the pan. Let it cook for about a minute. It will kind of stick together into one big flat sausage. After a minute of listening to sizzling sausage, flip this over with a spatula. Using the end of a the spatula, break up the pieces of sausage as it cooks. The smaller the pieces, the better. Give it about 2 minutes, or until there are no more raw-looking pieces.

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Set the sausage aside while you assemble the pizza. First, preheat your oven and pizza stone (if you have one) to the highest temperature your oven will allow. In my tiny oven, that's about 500 degrees Fahrenheit  For the rest of the pizza, you will need:

  • 1 package* store-bought pizza dough. (I used multigrain from Whole Foods)
  • flour and corn meal, for the pizza dough
  • 1/2 big ball fresh mozzerella, Sliced or shredded, whichever you prefer.
  • About 1 cup of marinara sauce. I used store bought generic Whole Foods brand. Ladies choice.
  • About 1 cup of chopped kale, rinsed and dried, about 1 stalk
  • pesto (optional)
  • parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (optional)

*The hardest part, for me, has always been to get thinly rolled out pizza. I always find store bought dough to be too springy, but here are a couple of tips to get you started:

  1. Heat up the pizza stone in your oven. If you are sans pizza stone, use the back of a cookie sheet. Work on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle this with cornmeal and dust with flour. This will help make the dough crispy, and make it easy to transfer it onto the hot cooking surface later.
  2. Use less than the dough that is provided in the package, For a personal pizza, I use less than half, but for a "normal" sized pizza, use about 2/3 of the entire package.
  3. Use a rolling pin. I know, I know, it doesn't fit into your dough-tossing Italian eatery fantasy. This is not Sicily. This is not even Papa Johns. Use a rolling pin. It will help you achieve a better circle and even thickness.
  4. Be patient. Let the dough spring back if it wants. You will have to roll out the same areas a couple times over. That's ok. Be ok with it. Flour liberally. Roll out some more.

Once your dough is rolled out, transfer the dough and parchment paper (without the toppings) onto your baking surface. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes, or until the top looks dry. Then, take it out of the oven and layer on your toppings.

First the sauce. Yum. Then the kale. This is because I had so. much. kale. And, I wanted it next to the sauce so that it would wilt down a little bit in the oven, rather than get crispy. Then the cheese. Then some dollops of fresh pesto that AB brought me. Lastly, the sausage. Sprinkle those spicy nuggets all over the pizza and try not to let them roll off onto the floor.

Carefully transfer this back into the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are crispy and the cheese has melted . Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, cut up, and serve warm.

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