Vegan pizza with southwest marinated kale.

Southwest Kale Pizza

Today marks the elusive February 29th, making it leap day. What fun to think that I’m getting a magical extra day from the calendar gods. Is anybody out there born on leap day?

Since I’m always looking for an excuse to celebrate, I’m going to honor this fine holiday with one of my most prized recipes. I’ve made this fiery southwest kale pizza so many times, that I decided to experiment a little to see if I could make it even better.

Pizza Dough

To start with, let’s talk about pizza dough. There’s nothing worse than a pizza dough that lacks flavor. Since I know that flavor has a lot to do with the amount of yeast and fermentation, I set out to test 3 separate methods.

Version 1: Double the Yeast Method

Results: Great dependable rise. Excellent texture. Decent flavor.

Recommendations: Use this method if you plan to make your dough and eat your pizza in the same day.

Version 2: Refrigerated Method using Half the Yeast

Results: Since this is a slow ferment, the flavor has time to develop. Superior texture and flavor.

Recommendations: Use this method if you have 2 days to allow your dough to ferment in the fridge before cooking. The dough will last for several days and is my preferred dough.

Version 3: Sourdough Method in place of active dry yeast

Results: Very thin, crunchy crust. Texture is a bit dense. Flavor is quite good.

Recommendations: If you have a sourdough starter, then I would recommend using 1 cup sourdough starter plus 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast. This dough can be used same day or allowed to ferment in the fridge for several days.

No Cheese, Please

In the case of this pizza, cheese is completely unnecessary because the tomato sauce and the southwest roasted kale have so much flavor on their own. Something magical actually happens to kale when you roast it with olive oil on top of tomato sauce.  The tomato sauce kind of steams it while the dry heat makes it crisp from the top. If you can’t imagine enjoying pizza without cheese, then simply shave some Parmegiano-Reggiano on top so you can still appreciate the other ingredients.

To keep things vegan, I like to make a version of parmegian by grinding cashews or sesame seeds with a bit of chickpeas miso. Toast it in the oven to dry everything out and presto, you have instant vegan umami at your fingertips for the sprinkling.


Southwest Kale Pizza

Southwest Kale Pizza


Southwest Kale Pizza


Southwest Kale Pizza
Fiery southwest seasoned kale roasted until crispy.


Vegan Southwest Kale Pizza

Red Pizza Sauce

Yield: Serves 4


  • 28 oz can Roma tomatoes, strained
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 t sea salt
  • ¼ t red pepper flakes
  • 6 basil leaves



In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse briefly (no more than 15 seconds).

Pizza Dough

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 c. white bread flour
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ t sea salt
  • 1 t active dry yeast (sourdough variation: 1 cup sourdough starter)
  • 1 ½ c cold water (sourdough variation: 1 cup water)
  • Rice flour for dusting



  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flours and salt.
  2. Combine the yeast and the water.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients.  Put the dough in a container lined with olive oil and store in the fridge for 2 days to allow for the flavor to develop.
  4. Remove dough from fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 475°. Meanwhile, dust parchment paper with rice flour and place pizza dough on parchment paper. Roll thinly and top with a thin layer of sauce and toppings.

Southwest Kale Topping

Yield: serves 4


  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, add the kale, onion, oil, and spices. Massage with your hands to coat the kale leaves evenly. Use to top the pizza.

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