Wishful thinking: Cooking Light’s sausage and kale pesto pizza

Let’s be clear: I wanted to love this pizza.

My version of Cooking Light’s sausage and kale pesto pizza, cooked in a cast iron skillet.

The image of bubbly cheese, bronze crust, rich pesto and sausage jumped off the pages of my January Cooking Light magazine. The cooking method–store bought crust in a cast iron pan–seemed novel and fast. The ingredients sounded divine–cheese! sausage! crust!–the kale a necessary but health adding evil. And the whole meal (recipe here) would be a reward for a long blood donation.

Alas.

Alas, the pizza was merely okay. The cooking method worked well until the crust browned up to the point of charred in a few places, completely my fault of course. (Note: If you use this method, really, just a couple minutes on the stove and then into the oven, whether or not the bottom is golden brown yet.) In the oven, the cheese refused to bubble in the time frame noted in the recipe, so it stayed in the heat longer which further exacerbated the burnt bottom.

But the real issue? The meh flavor and texture of the pesto. Perhaps because I was expecting a traditional spicy basil pesto taste, I was disappointed by the more muted and grassy kale flavor. If I were to do it again, I would crank up the garlic, dust with cayenne, and spritz with fresh lemon juice for more zing.

And more than anything, I should have trusted my instinct that for once, a recipe made too much sauce. The precise proportions of the pesto recipe resulted in a thick smattering of sauce which, while pretty, had a grainy mouth feel that wasn’t pleasant. Next time, I would use a thinner layer or consider buzzing the sauce longer in the food processor, as opposed to the “pulse until just combined” directions.

All that said, I will likely use the cast-iron method again in the future. It’s easy and helps get the nice pan-crust edges that don’t seem to work as well on a pizza stone.

xoxo,
shawna

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