Kale Pesto and Walnut Pizza & California

Pizza may be an American classic (or at least we made the overly cheesy version ours) but I never knew the world of pizza really until I studied abroad in Italy. I was in a small town on top of a hill and within the first 48 hours of being there, I had heard about the pizza rivalry between three family fun shops. I tried all three while I was there, multiple times and each one was different in their own way. I loved all three equality (but shout out to the Fratelli di Buffala). Each set the bar for pizza so high that for months after arriving back I avoided all pizza. Italian style pizza, the thin crust, chewy, just melty cheese holds a special place in my heart. Each new city I go to is evaluated for their Italian style pizza and probably slightly dictates where we will end up. Seattle, Im not convinced yet. BTW I say Italian and not Neopolitian because the pizzas from Perugia was a delicious amalgamation and just as satisfying.

In Virginia of all places, my fiance and I fell in love with this traditional Neopolitian style place. While the traditional pizzas were fantastic, their Pesto pizza is the one I think of the most.

I made a few changes to their pizza of course and so I present Kale Pesto and Walnut pizza. This pizza somehow reminds me of California, maybe because of the pesto but maybe because I can imagine ordering it at a beach town while the sun sets. So play Delta Spirit’s California in the background and you’ll feel right where I am.

California is just a fun album. Carefree, lazy, a perfect easy weekend album or way to turn a Monday night into a more youthful one.

Kale Pesto and Walnut Pizza

Serves 4


Kale Pesto Recipe

  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup of fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/4 tsp of sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp of EVOO
  • small handful of walnuts
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Throw the first 4 ingreidents into your food processor and pulse until the kale and basil leaves are finely chopped. Drizzle in the EVOO while the blade is spinning (unless you have a small food processor, add in half, pulse and add the other half). If you need more, add in 1 Tbsp at a time until you have a typical pesto consistency (i.e. slightly spreadable via a knife). Use a spatula or spoon and scrape all of the kale and basil off the sides. Add in the walnuts and garlic and pulse to combine. Stir in the grated Parm, add pepper to taste and enjoy!

This recipe will make extra but freezes deliciously in an ice cube tray for future dinners. Try as a salad dressing, pasta topping or on a sandwich.

Pizza Recipe

  • 1/2 recipe of Bon Appetit’s Grandma-Style Pie Dough (http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/grandma-style-pizza-dough)
  • 3-5 Tbsp of Kale Pesto
  • 6-10 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, toasted


  1. Make the Grandma-Style Pie Dough. If you can, let it develop flavor over the 24 hours as the recipe states. It does make a difference. I’ll be honest, I’ve definitely just let it rise once and then used it as is, still delicious but not the same.
  2. Preheat the oven to 525 degrees F (or as high as it will go). Take the dough out of the fridge about an hour before you use to help it relax. Place your dough in on a baking sheet and spread it out using your fingers. If you can, spread it out to the edges of the pan. If the dough springs back, let it rest 20-30 minutes. Let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes prior to baking and spreading the toppings on it.
  3. After the dough looks slightly puffy, put the mozzarella cheese down first. Sprinkle it generously over the dough. Top with the kale pesto so that maybe half of the cheese is covered with pesto, like you would normal tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the walnuts.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!


What? You don’t put your cheese down first and then cover with the sauce? Try it now. Interestingly enough, I’ve found this to be a regional affair, putting the sauce over or under the cheese. Regardless it often keeps the dough from soaking up sauce and puts the toppings front and center. But I’m not a purist, I like it both ways (See Pizza Arrabiata).

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