Kale and Onion Pizza from ‘River Cottage Veg’

British food star Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is the latest formally meat-centric food personality to become evangelical about the virtues of vegetables (We’re looking at you, Mark Bittman). This British cook, broadcaster and author of eight cookbooks — including the James Beard award-winning The River Cottage Meat Book — just unveiled River Cottage Veg, a collection of 200 recipes that he hopes will “persuade you to eat more vegetables. Many more vegetables.” He says it’s a no-brainer, and when he puts it like this, it really is:

“Just ask yourself if you, or anyone you know, might be in danger of eating too many vegetables. Or if you think the world might be a better, cleaner, greener place with a few more factory chicken or pig farms or intensive cattle feedlots scattered about the countryside.” 

You can read more about Fernly-Whittingstall’s thoughts behind his cookbook in this excerpt from the introduction. Or, let the food do the convincing with his recipe for Kale and Onion Pizza.

Kale and Onion Pizza
Makes 3 pizzas, each serving 2 or 3

1 recipe magic bread dough (see below) or pizza dough of your choice

For the topping
A 10-ounce / 300g bunch of curly or Lacinato kale, stems removed
3 tablespoons canola or olive oil, plus a little extra to trickle
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely slivered
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 3 1/2 ounces / 100g mature 
cheddar, grated

Prepare the dough, leave it to rise, and then punch it down according to the instructions on page 172.

Preheat the oven to  500°F / 250°C, if it goes that high, or to at least 425°F / 220°C. Put in a baking sheet to heat up.

While the dough is rising, shred the kale leaves into 1/4- to 1/3-inch-wide ribbons. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onions. Once sizzling, decrease the heat to low and cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and golden, 10 to 15 minutes, adding the garlic halfway through. Stir the shredded kale into the onions and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, until the leaves have wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

After punching down the risen dough, leave it to rest for a few minutes, then cut it into three pieces. Roll out one piece as thinly as you can.

Scatter a baking peel (if you have one) or another baking sheet with a little flour and place the rolled-out dough on it. Spread one-third of the kale and one-third of the onions on the dough, then top with one-third of the grated cheddar. Trickle with a little oil.

Slide the pizza onto the hot baking sheet in the oven if formed on a peel, or, if formed on a baking sheet, simply lay the baking sheet on the hot one in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is crisp and golden. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping. Serve hot, cut into wedges.

Magic Bread Dough
Makes 3 pizzas, but can also be used to make 
8 flat breads, 12 pitas, or umpteen breadsticks

2 cups / 250g all-purpose flour
2 cups / 250g bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil, plus a little extra for oiling
1 1/3 cups / 325ml warm water

Put the two flours into a large bowl with the salt and yeast. Mix well. Add the oil and warm water and mix to a rough dough. Flour your hands a little. Tip out the dough onto a work surface and knead rhythmically for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth. This is quite a loose and sticky dough, which is just as it should be – you get better-textured bread this way – so try not to add too much flour if you can help it. It will become less sticky as you knead.

Trickle a little oil into a clean bowl, add the kneaded dough, and turn 
it in the oil so it is covered with a light film. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – at least an hour, probably closer to two. You can also proof it in a floured, cloth-lined proofing basket or banneton.

When the dough is well risen and puffy, tip it out and “punch it down” by poking it with your outstretched fingers until it collapses to its former size. It’s now ready to be shaped to your will.

Find more recipes from River Cottage Veg from our friends at therecipeclub.net

Recipe reprinted with permission from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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River Cottage cookbooks by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
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