Fiery Chile Pesto Pizza with Sumac, Ricotta, and Chard

Fiery Chile Pesto Pizza with Sumac, Ricotta, and Chard
Fiery Chile Pesto Pizza with Sumac, Ricotta, and Chard

Pizza is a big blank slate. It is at its heart an unadorned flatbread canvas, begging for food alchemists to experiment on it, try new flavor combinations, and see what sort of magic they can make happen in the kitchen.

Challenge accepted.

In this recipe our canvas is our Cauliflower Crust, and we chose that for its lighter carb load. It also boosts overall vegetable intake. And, it’s delicious, as the rich Parmesan that’s been worked through the crust takes on deeply nutty flavors when baked. It holds its own against the strong flavors of Fiery Chile Pesto, smoky and sweet and abundant with garlic and fresh herbs.

The savory flavor of the cauliflower crust also acts to balance out the tangy flavors in the toppings. We pair creamy ricotta cheese with tart Ground Sumac and a bit of lemon, which plays well against the gentle sweetness of this cheese. Garlicky sautéed Swiss chard is balanced by the acidity of balsamic vinegar. Chard needs to be broken into its components when cooking, because the stems will take much longer to cook than the thinner leaves, which only take a few minutes. Just grab each piece of chard where the leaf meets the stem, and pull. That should strip the leaves right off the stem, and then you can trim each part as necessary. If you don’t have chard you can easily substitute kale, and you should still strip the leaves from the stems and process both parts separately. You could also use a green like broccoli rabe, though that should be trimmed and blanched for a minute in boiling water before sautéing with garlic, as above.

We used white balsamic vinegar for this dish, which tastes more fruity than dark balsamic vinegar, which is deep and woodsy. We also chose white balsamic vinegar because we didn’t want the color of dark balsamic vinegar to interfere with the color palette of the dish and make it look muddy. You can use whichever balsamic vinegar you prefer with minimal impact on the overall outcome of the dish.

We arranged our pesto, ricotta cheese, and Swiss chard in layers; if you want a more dramatic presentation, drop dollops of cheese across the pizza, and arrange the chard around that. The pizza will pick up some browning in the oven, but because of the moisture content in the cheese it isn’t going to become crusty and golden overall. Let this pizza cool for a few minutes so it sets up, then enjoy it with a nice, crisp glass of minerally white wine. A simple green salad will turn this into a date night meal that’s fun and sophisticated.

 Print Recipe

Cooking Time: 20 min.

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Separate the leaves and stems of the chard. Cut the stems into a small dice and roughly chop the leaves.

3. Sauté the chard stems and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes or until the stems start to soften.

4. Add the leaves and balsamic vinegar and cook for 3 more minutes.

5. Mix the ricotta with Ground Sumac, lemon zest, egg, and a pinch of Fine Sea Salt and Medium Grind Black Pepper.

6. Spoon Fiery Chile Pesto in an even layer on the crust. Add the ricotta mixture in another layer, then top with Swiss chard.

7. Cook in 400°F oven for 10 minutes.