On Sunday each week, I compile a grocery list, taking careful inventory of the contents in my refrigerator and pantry and cross-referencing them with the ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. But before I add ingredients to my list and recipes to my meal plan for that week, I force each recipe through the reality filter. On a week night, after a full day at work, a workout and possibly laundry or working a shift at Bar Method, I can’t always muster the energy or the patience it takes to cook a preparation-intensive meal and have it not be ready to eat until 9 p.m. Earlier in the week on a Monday or Tuesday, I can usually make it work. But come Wednesday and Thursday, fast and easy take priority. So on those nights, I shove my desire to innovate and experiment aside, and embrace familiar, fast recipes that allow me to eat dinner well before 9 p.m. Enter pizza.
While pizza is often associated with the unhealthy varieties featuring at least a half-inch thick layer of cheese and loads of fatty meats, they don’t have to be that way at home. And they don’t have to be boring either. You would be surprised how far a little dusting of cheese can go when you get a little creative with wholesome yet richly flavored ingredients.
On this particular week night, I peered into my refrigerator, fresh Whole Foods pizza dough in hand, and realized my planning had gone awry. I had forgotten pizza toppings! But as I looked closer, I realized I did, in fact, have pizza toppings in the form of several, seemingly random items left over from meals earlier in the week: roasted baby potatoes, cooked black beans, and an extra bunch of collard greens. And thanks to the parsley, almond and sunflower seed pesto I had whipped up in 2 minutes in the food processor for a potato salad a couple days prior, I also had sauce.
As I’ve mentioned before, beans and greens are a traditional Italian combination, and I already knew the potato-pesto duo had performed swimmingly on Tuesday. So beans, greens, potato and pesto sounded like a winner. A flavorful yet wholesome one too!
For next time, I would only make two changes, which I have added to the instructions below. First, I would quarter, not halve, the potatoes because even half of a baby potato in your mouth can be a bit too much starchy creaminess and can overwhelm the other flavors in that bite. Second, I would toss the quartered potatoes and the whole black beans in one-third of the pesto sauce so that the potatoes and beans would soak up more of the garlicky herbal flavor.
Collard Greens, Black Beans and Potato Pizza with Parsley Pesto
Makes 8 slices (Serves 2 to 4)
Collard greens can be swapped out for whatever bunch of greens you have on hand. Black beans, while wonderful with the collards, can be replaced with white beans (e.g. cannellini) or other canned or dried cooked beans; however, if you choose a bean that’s larger and starchier or creamier than black beans, you may want to skip the potatoes. On the other hand, if you’re making this for dinner on a romantic evening, you may want to skip the beans altogether, in which case you’ll want to keep the potatoes.
1 c. water
1/2 bunch collard greens, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. finely ground cornmeal
1 package Whole Foods’ fresh pizza dough (or other fresh pizza dough)
Parsley, Almond and Sunflower Seed Pesto
1/2 c. baby potatoes, cooked and quartered
1/2 c. black beans, cooked (or canned and drained)
grated parmesan for sprinkling (about 1/2 c.)
Preheat oven to 550F (or as high as yours goes).
Add 1 c. water to a large pan, and prep collard greens while you bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add collard greens and garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, and stirring occasionally, continue cooking until greens are tender, about 20 minutes (or the amount of time it took for my oven to preheat and for me to pre-bake the dough). Remove from heat, and set aside.
Meanwhile, lightly sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal. Shape dough by either rolling it out (will need a little flour) or lifting the dough up and stretching/rotating it until it fits a large baking pan. For a crispier crust, pre-bake the dough for 3 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove from oven, and set aside.
Spread 3/4 of the pesto evenly across the pizza dough. In a small bowl, toss potato wedges and black beans in remaining pesto. Evenly distribute collard greens, and pesto-ed potatoes and black beans across the pizza. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the entire pizza (and the crust!).
Put pizza in the oven on the middle rack. Bake until top of crust is golden (about 7 to 8 minutes if you pre-baked the crust or 10 to 12 minutes if you skipped that step). Cut into 8 slices, and serve hot.