Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spicy Kale-Pancetta Pizza

Up a few years ago, I rarely ate pizza. I was lucky if I had it more than three times a year. It wasn't that I didn't like pizza. But it just never induced any orgasmic cravings.

Then, I discovered Motorino in the East Village of New York. Seating no more than 40 people, it is a small dining room on a quiet side street near Alphabet City. On my very first visit, I was blessed to have the chance to order their ramp pizza. It was a revelation with so many layers of flavor, sweet tomato sauce, burnt earthy ramps and thin, crispy blistered crust. In fact, it was so good that I didn't notice it had no cheese! A no no for me usually. The only reason why I even noticed was because my fellow diner pointed it out to me.  Their ramp pizza made such an impression on me that I decided to make my own version later.

Food should just be this good where years later I can still salivate at the memory of if as I'm typing away.   So with Motorino followed a slew of boutique pizzerias in NYC including Co. and Artichoke Basille's for their famed artichoke pizza. If there was a buzz on a pizzeria in the local food mills, you could find me there.

With my last pizza recipe on this blog, I found myself really happy for the first time with my pie. It was good before.  But now, I can happily sit down with two (maybe three!) slices and close my eyes in happy bliss. Three things I figured out in my pizza eating that I believe are key to a GOOD pizza: (1) crust (2) sauce and (3) high heat which leads right back again to (1).  Just a warning now to stop scrolling in case you want to be subjected to excessive pizza porn.

I had excess kale and pancetta sitting around in my fridge. The kale because I have a recent obsession for using it in my juice and because it is just so tasty. The pancetta I had just because I had a craving. With my leftover roma tomatoes, I used it to create a sweet & spicy arrabbiata sauce as the base for my pizza.

The scorching heat from the oven created a gorgeous crust to the pie and the kale a nice, smoky crunch.  The heat from the arrabbiata sauce paired with the pancetta, kale, salty parmesan and gooey mozzarella was the perfect match.  And plus, don't you just feel healthy anytime you eat kale?  :)  It takes some of that guilt away.  Isn't it the perfect pie?

Don't let the door hit you on your way out. This one is all MINE!!

If you prefer to tone down your pie, feel free to reduce the red chile flakes or leave it out entirely.  It will be equally delicious! If you short on time, use a prepared pizza sauce in replacement of the arrabbiata sauce.  I would still take the few minutes though to add chile flakes for some heat.

Makes 8 slices

For pizza:
1 pre-made pizza dough
1 cup arrabiata sauce
4 stalk kale, chopped into huge hunks, greens only
1/2 cup pancetta, small cubes
1 mozzarella ball, sliced
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, olive oil and fleur de sel to finish

For arrabbiata sauce (makes 2 cups):

2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 tbsp red chile flakes (adjust heat to preference)
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 tsp fennel seeds

1 cups fresh roma tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup canned diced tomato
3 tbsp tomato paste

1.  Remove dough from fridge a half hour before using to let it come to room temperature.

2.  For sauce, heat oil in medium pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic, red chile, herbes de Provence and fennel seeds and let essences release for a few minutes. Then, add tomatoes and paste.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow the sauce to come together.

3. Preheat oven to highest it can go. Mine was 495 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. On a large wooden board, cover lightly with 2 tbsp flour. Make sure dough is a round ball shape and dust with balance of flour.

5. Using a rolling pin, work from the center out using the ball of your hand. Slowly roll the dough into a circular shape until it is flattened to 1/2" thickness and covers a 14" pie crisper. Add more flour as needed if dough is sticky. It should be very easy to work with.

6. Move rolled out dough to the pan and using your hand stretch out dough to cover pan if needed.  Crimp edge of dough to create crust.

7. Using a spoon, spread arrabbiata sauce out from middle to cover dough evenly. Leave about 1" uncovered from the edge for the crust.

8.  Lay kale leaves on the dough. Sprinkle cubed pancetta on top.

9.  Layer mozzarella and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top of the kale and pancetta. Using a pastry brush, lightly cover the crust with oil so that it turns a nice golden color.

10.  Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until bubbly with golden brown crust. 

11. Remove from oven and using a pizza cutter cut into 8 slices, moving quickly to avoid too much sticking. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Claire! Yes, it was AWESOME!! Great way to get some veggies into those haters.

  2. Mmmm! Reminds me that it's been forever since I made a pizza. This one sounds great - love the idea of spicy kale!