Kale Pesto Pizza with Caramelized Onions

There's no knead to buy pizza dough ever again. This novel idea from Jim Lahey (the baking brains behind New York's Sullivan Street Bakery) takes kneading completely out of the equation and employs hands-free overnight fermentation to get a rise out of the dough. The resulting crust is light and packed with air pockets that blister in the heat, creating an ideal terrain for toppings. The food scene is eating it up -- Bon AppetitFOOD52 and Serious Eats have all jumped on the Lahey bandwagon, celebrating the ease and simplicity of his method (and the release of his new book My Pizza).

I altered the composition of my dough slightly: whereas Lahey calls for strictly all-purpose flour, I used a combination of white whole-wheat and regular whole-wheat flours, yielding a slightly denser crust (that still bubbled and browned just as beautifully). The dough, stretched into a crust shape and brushed with olive oil, gets a little time alone in the oven before being joined by any toppings. (This is when the bubbling and browning happens). After the initial bake, I painted my crust with a pesto made of roasted kale and pistachios and brightened with a touch of lemon zest. Caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, parmesan and more roasted kale complete the toppings, adding heft and a delicious harmony of flavors and textures. 

[on Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough]

2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water


1 cup raw pistachios, toasted
4 cups kale, roasted and roughly chopped 
fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest 
3 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


fresh mozzarella
freshly grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups roasted kale
1 red onion, sliced
1 tsp sugar
olive oil

Dough (prepare 1 day in advance; makes approximately four 12" round crusts): 
1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon, then finish scrunching the dough with your hands until the water is distributed. 
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours or until the dough has more than doubled. 
3. Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. The batch makes about four 12" crusts, but feel free to divide the dough as you like (ie. you may want two larger pizzas instead). Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
Note: If you don't intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Pesto: Preheat oven to 350 dgF. Toss kale (de-ribbed and torn) with a little salt and olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Peel a few garlic cloves and add to baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes, until kale turns bright green and edges begin to brown. (The kale makes a great topping for the pizza, so you might want to roast a little extra and set it aside). Remove from oven and roughly chop the garlic. Meanwhile, toast the pistachios until fragrant; remove from heat and let cool. Combine garlic, kale, pistachios, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and parmesan in a food processor; pulse into a chunky paste. Season with salt and pepper and adjust other ingredients to taste. (You may need to add more olive oil to thin the mixture).

Pizza: Preheat oven to 450 dgF. Place pizza stone in the oven to preheat for 15 minutes. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough (See Step 3 in "Dough" instructions). I like to start with my hands to stretch it out gently and finish with a rolling pin/pestle/wine bottle to even it out. Brush the dough with olive oil and transfer to the pre-heated stone; bake until dough edges begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, thinly slice a red onion and saute with olive oil and a little honey until caramelized. Remove pizza from oven and paint the crust generously with the pistachio-kale pesto. Spread caramelized onions over the pizza, top with kale and fresh mozzarella, and finish with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan. Return the pizza to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese begins to bubble and crust is browned.


  1. Oh, I am so excited to see that you successfully substituted whole wheat flour for the all purpose in Jim Lahey's recipe! I've been wondering if that would work since I saw that beautiful pizza spread in Bon Appetit. And big congrats on your Saveur nomination, you're great company!

    1. Yes, it was an experiment that luckily (and deliciously) worked out! Thanks Kate, congrats to you too - it's thrilling to be a part of such a talented/inspiring group of finalists! Cheers, A

  2. I discovered your site a few days ago via Saveur nominations. What a nice find! You had my vote. I´ll be returning often. well Done!

  3. You received a Versatile Blogger Award!
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  4. I just had a whole wheat Jim Lahey no knead pizza for dinner! (I have like a billion frozen doughs in my freezer from a cooking demo I did... so we're eating a lot of pizza...) It was also a kale pizza. but w/ tomato, sausage, a local cheese, and eggs! Friggin goodness. I think greens + eggs on Jim Lahey's dough may be my new favorite pizza ever.

    1. Greens and eggs are a glorious couple; and your pizza sounds amazing. I'm glad you got in touch, Beth - I love what you're doing with your blog and am excited to see more! (And thanks for reminding me to replenish my stock of freezer dough...)

  5. i made this pizza tonight and it was incredibly delicious. thanks for sharing.

  6. I can’t even begin to express my love with this recipe. It is not only a fall favourite but an all year round favourite. It’s low cal and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

    Ketterman Rowland & Westlund

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