There’s a pizza place near us that John and I would frequent on practically a weekly basis when we first moved here. They specialize in Napoli style, brick oven pizzas with cracker thin, slightly charred crusts and deliciously sweet yet acidic tomato sauces and toppings. I love how the back third of the restaurant is occupied by a bar surrounding the open kitchen. We’d watch in awe as pizzas were assembled, and even better, if we were eating there late enough, we could watch the cooks prepare dough for the next day. A giant industrial sized mixer, large bags of flour, a jar of honey, and an entire bottle of white wine. Nice!
On one such late evening, we watched the manager place his order with the cooks for his dinner. His off the menu pizza consisted of fresh spinach, pieces of lamb sausage and cheese. Interesting, but not extraordinary. Then all of a sudden, we saw the cook reach for an egg and crack it, dropping the egg, yolk intact into the center of the pizza. When it came out, the whites were set and the yolk was a quivery, sunny yellow custard. Good thing we were seated at a table and not at the kitchen bar since I don’t think we could keep our drool under control.
Somehow, it took over 3 years later for me to try doing the egg on a pizza trick. With a pretty bunch of purple streaked, dark green kale, I decided that these greens would be delicious on a pizza. I cooked the kale in the traditional greens bath of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper then spread them out over pizza dough that had been brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with mozzarella. A little more mozzarella was scattered on top of the kale before laying down pieces of pancetta. This was baked in the oven for 10 minutes to give the pancetta time to crisp up, before I gently set three eggs near the center of the pizza. When I took the pizza out 9 minutes later, the eggs had that classic sunny side up look. I admired the prettiness before taking to the eggs the way that Alex takes to eggiewegs in A Clockwork Orange— “I like to smash ’em!” Basically, I spread the eggs out throughout the pizza so that each bite would have some of that soft custard. So if you make this at a dinner party (or brunch– breakfast pizza!), be sure to present the pizza when it’s out of the oven for lots of oohs and aahs before doing the smashing step. Crunchy crust, woodsy kale, salty pancetta, and the luxuriant softness of egg. Drooling yet?
Note: I didn’t think of it at the time, but I bet a few dashes of a vinegary hot sauce would be good with the kale. Also, I made a vegetarian version of this pizza while my parents were in town and we watched game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals (hockey being a new addiction for all of us.) Instead of kale, I sautéed rainbow chard, and for the cheese, I used some leftover triple creme brie that I had on hand. The chard had a softer, more vegetal taste than the kale, so try that if kale freaks you out. Oh, and the triple creme brie– highly recommended no matter what green you use.
- Prepared pizza dough (or you could make your own)
- 1 bunch rainbow kale, leaves pulled and chopped, stems discarded
- 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more to taste)
- 2.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 oz sliced pancetta
- 3 eggs
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, preferably preheating a pizza stone at the same time if you’ve got one. Roll out pizza dough to 16 inches in diameter and let it rest.
In a medium skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the three smashed garlic cloves, and red pepper flakes. Heat over medium flame. Toast garlic cloves to a golden brown before removing and discarding. Add the chopped kale leaves and toss to coat with the oil. Cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Place rolled out dough on hot pizza stone or on a baking sheet. Brush with 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil then sprinkle with 2 cups of shredded cheese. Spread the kale out over the cheese then sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top of that. Place pieces of pancetta all over the pizza and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully set 3 raw eggs about halfway in from the edges and the center of the pizza. Return to oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until whites are set and the yolks slightly quiver. Season with salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Take a fork, break the yolks and gently smear the eggs all over the pizza before drizzling with remaining half tablespoon of olive oil. Slice and serve.
CSA Count: 1