Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza with a Walnut Pesto Base

Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza with a Walnut Pesto Base
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About This Recipe

When the warm breeze of summer flows through Napa, I often find myself wandering through the local markets, searching for inspiration for the next farm to table recipe. And during one such stroll, as the gentle sunlight filtered through the orchard trees, I stumbled upon a delightful medley of ingredients: crisp apples, vibrant kale, and a piquant blue cheese. This serendipitous blend became the foundation for my Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza with a Walnut Pesto Base.

Crafting this dish was like painting a canvas with flavors inspired by our very own wine country. The apples, reminiscent of the lush orchards that dot the outskirts of Napa, bring in a burst of sweetness. The kale, fresh from the valley’s farms, lends a delightful earthiness. The blue cheese, sourced from a quaint dairy in Sonoma, carries the creamy sharpness that ties everything together. And let’s not forget the walnut pesto — a nutty, aromatic base that gives the dish a rich depth, much like the soil of our cherished vineyards.

For a side dish, I often go for a simple mixed greens salad sprinkled with goat cheese, pine nuts, and a light vinaigrette. It balances the pizza’s robust flavors beautifully. And for those with a sweet tooth, a creamy panna cotta or a classic tiramisu sourced from the local Italian patisserie would round off the meal perfectly.

Now, let’s talk wine. In the heart of wine country, there’s no dish complete without the perfect bottle. A buttery Chardonnay, like the Cakebread Cellars variant, complements the apples' sweetness and balances the richness of the blue cheese and walnut pesto. For those who lean towards red, the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Sonoma's DeLoach Vineyards is a match made in heaven. The wine's fruity undertones echo the apple's sweetness and enhance the kale's fresh taste.

If you're ever in the mood for a wine tasting journey, I'd recommend a hidden gem not many outside our local circles know about: Silverado Vineyards. Nestled atop the Stags Leap District, it offers an exquisite view of the valley below and wines that sing tales of the Napa heritage. And while you’re there, take a detour to the lesser-traveled paths. The real beauty of wine country lies not just in the popular spots but in the quiet nooks, serene vineyards, and the warm, inviting smiles of locals who’ve seen the valley evolve through the years.

Choosing the right wine menu for your summer dinner is an art, and in Napa, it’s also a celebration. So, the next time you think of a quick dinner idea or an easy healthy dinner that brings the soul of wine country right to your plate, remember this pizza recipe. Not only does it encapsulate the essence of Napa Valley, but it's also a testament to how authentic recipes, inspired by nature and nurtured by the local land, can create memories that last a lifetime.

"Hero" Ingredient Spotlight: The Power of Walnuts

Walnuts are often dubbed a "superfood," and for good reason. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vital vitamins, they not only boost heart health but also improve brain function. In our Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza, they bring forth not just health benefits but also a rustic crunch and deep flavor. Paired with the freshness of basil in our homemade pesto, walnuts elevate the dish from a mere pizza to a gourmet experience.

How to Make the Perfect Walnut Pesto

Walnut Pesto is a flavorful twist to the traditional pine nut-based pesto. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make it to perfection:

  1. Choose Fresh Ingredients: The quality of your walnuts, basil, and garlic plays a pivotal role in determining the flavor of the pesto.
  2. Toast the Walnuts: Before blending, consider toasting the walnuts on a dry skillet for 3-4 minutes. This intensifies the flavor.
  3. Blend, But Not Too Much: When blending the ingredients in a food processor, aim for a coarse texture. Over-blending can make the pesto too paste-like.
  4. Add Olive Oil Gradually: Slowly pour in the oil as the food processor is running to achieve a silky-smooth consistency.
  5. Season Right: A touch of salt and pepper enhances the nutty flavor of the pesto.

FAQs about Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza

  1. Can I substitute another cheese for blue cheese? Absolutely! Feta or goat cheese can be a great alternative if you're not a fan of the strong taste of blue cheese.
  2. How can I store leftover pizza? Place leftover slices in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in an oven for best taste.
  3. I have a nut allergy. Can I omit walnuts from the pesto? Yes, you can use sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds as a nut-free alternative.
  4. Which type of apple is best for this pizza? A crisp and slightly tart apple, like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, works best. It complements the other flavors and maintains its structure when baked.
  5. Do I need a pizza stone for baking? While a pizza stone can give a nice crusty base, you can also use a regular baking sheet. Just make sure to preheat it in the oven before placing your pizza on it.

Tips for Success

  1. Slice Ingredients Thinly: Ensuring that your apples and red onions are thinly sliced ensures even baking and a harmonious blend of flavors with every bite.
  2. Preheat Your Oven: Always let your oven reach the desired temperature before placing the pizza inside. This guarantees a crispy crust and well-cooked toppings.
  3. Pair with Wine: Enhance your dining experience by pairing this gourmet pizza with a glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, which complements the flavors beautifully.

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Apple, Kale, and Blue Cheese Pizza with a Walnut Pesto Base
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Fall
Yield:
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
620
Prep Time:
PT20M
Cook Time:
PT15M
Total Time:
PT35M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup walnut pesto (recipe follows)
  • 1 large apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups kale, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Walnut Pesto:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Start by preparing the walnut pesto. In a food processor, combine walnuts, garlic, and basil leaves. Process until coarsely chopped. Slowly add in olive oil while processing. Stir in Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C).
  3. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface to your desired thickness. Transfer to a pizza stone or baking sheet.
  4. Evenly spread the walnut pesto over the pizza dough, leaving a small border around the edges.
  5. Distribute apple slices, kale, blue cheese, red onion, and chopped walnuts over the pesto base.
  6. Drizzle the entire pizza with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the blue cheese is slightly melted.
  8. Remove from oven, slice, and enjoy!

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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