This pizza will make you happier than a hog eatin’ a sweet tater.

Well, Carol Ann has been getting on my backside about my frontside lately. “Joe Luke! You know that six-pack is turning into a keg there, darling,” she slyly comments on her way out of the door to hot yoga. Yeah, hot yoga. Doesn’t that sound like a good time? A bunch of soccer moms in their late 30s, dressing like they are in their early 20s, doing yoga in a room with a humid temperature of 115 degrees, all sweating profusely. If Carol Ann wants that kind of a work out, she can take this cowboy on upstairs and we can act like we used to in our early 20s. She gives me a peck on the check, pokes me in the belly as a playful reminder, and walks out the door.

Carol Ann and I have been together for quite some time. We met during my senior year of college; Carol Ann was a junior. We attended UKY where we both majored in food science, which led us to owning our restaurant downtown. We used to be married to that place, but now it has become so successful that we were able to hire a manager, chefs, and staff. The only time the employees see us is on pay-day. We still have a few that like to get a paper check handed to them. Just like the old days. I don’t blame ’em one bit. I miss those days, too.

Shortly after Carol Ann left the house, she sends me a text message asking me to prepare us her favorite salad for lunch. Kale, roasted sweet potatoes, smokey pecans, and shredded parmesan, dressed in olive oil. Well, Joe Luke doesn’t want a salad! He wants pizza. The wheels started to turn and I decided I was going to turn this salad into a pizza. With all that sweating Carol Ann was about to do, she can afford a few carbs. And if I play my cards right, she will be sweating again later on tonight. Yee Haw!

Okay, pizza time!

Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Pizza
– with sautéed Kale & Shallots, Oven Roasted Smokey Pecans & Shaved Parmesan

Sweet Potato Pizza1
Sweet Potato and Kale Pizza

Prep Time: 20 | Servings: 12 pcs | Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 heads of garlic
1/2 cup pecans
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pizza crust, 11in x 15in or 14in – 16in round
2 tbsp corn meal
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cups kale
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°.

1. Peel and dice sweet potatoes into 1in. cubes. Toss in a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Take the heads of garlic and slice off the tops, exposing the cloves. Place on a square sheet of tin foil, exposed side up. Drizzle with 1 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the corners of the in foil together creating a little tent. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together pecans, melted butter, sea salt, and smoked paprika. Transfer to a lightly greased, small baking sheet.

4. Place the sweet potatoes and the garlic in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 35 minutes. Toss the sweet potatoes every 10-12 minutes while baking.

5. When there is 20 minutes of baking time left, put the pecans in the oven. Toss pecans after 10 minutes.

6. The sweet potatoes, garlic, and pecans will all be coming out of the oven at the same time. Once removed, adjust the temperature of the oven according to the directions of your pizza dough. Sprinkle corn meal on a lightly greased pan, press dough to the edges and bake.

7. In a mixing bowl, add the sweet potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder, pinch of salt & pepper, and garlic cloves. If the garlic is too hot to handle, you can squeeze them cut side down into the bowl using the middle area of a set of tongs. Mix until smooth.

8. In a large skillet, over medium low heat, add a tbsp of olive oil and sliced shallot. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. You want to soften the shallots, not brown them. After about 5 minutes, add the kale to the shallots. Toss and let the kale wilt down to half of its size.

9. Once the dough is baked, spread on the sweet potato mash. Top sweet potato mash with kale and shallot mixture. Roughly chop the pecans and sprinkle over the top along with the grated Parmesan cheese. Broil on middle rack until cheese starts to melt, about 1-2 minutes. Slice and serve.

Written by Brendan

I am the oldest, funniest, and best looking of the three pieces of fruit to come from our parents loins. Hmmm… if I was a piece of fruit, I think I’d be a peach. Fuzzy on the outside, a little soft, a little juicy, and a big ol’ heart in center. I believe I was 17 years old. The year was 2003 (holy crap, that was 15 years ago?) when I decided to make the change and become a vegetarian. Born and raised in Northeast Pennsylvania, being a vegetarian was not all that common. And, because it wasn’t all that common, I had to figure out the vegetarian lifestyle all on my own. I quickly discovered how much more energy I had and how much better I felt. A few years later I met the macaroni to my cheese, the basil to my pesto, someone that really made my dough rise, the love of my life, Sarah. Many of you already know the story of our first date and are still wondering why she said yes to a second. For those that don’t know the story, I don’t know if you’re lucky or if you missed out. While only being together for 6 months, we decided to move in together. Actually, Sarah the Stalker found an apartment in Jim Thorpe, PA – where I lived. She had lived just 20 minutes away in one of the next towns over and couldn’t bare to be that far away from this piece of Porter House steak. Can you blame her? So, she bought me a tooth brush for her place and gave me a key, at which point it became our place. Here is where I rediscovered how much I loved to cook – by making our nightly dinners. Also, I may or may not have had a small obsession with Rachael Ray. Fast forward to 2016, and my now wife Sarah and I are moving to the Carne Asada capital of the world, Tucson, AZ. No more cold and no more snow! Tucson is a charming little city with a small town feel in Southern Arizona, about a stone’s throw away from Mexico. There is a lot of Mexican influence here from the street names, the adobe style homes, and the FOOD. The food is incredible here. There’s an old wives’ tale here about the salsa in Tucson. How hot the salsa is depends on how angry the lady in the kitchen making it is at her husband. We have had some mild salsas and we have had some salsas that made you feel like you sold your backside to el diablo. I’ve always had an interest in food, ever since I was a little kid. I have great memories of being in the kitchen with my grandparents and mom that inspire me to continue to cook for people and write recipes. Last June, with the support of my wife, I quit my career of 13 years in banking to focus on writing a cookbook. My cookbook will incorporate dishes I ate growing up, recipes I created, and a modern twist on some classics. My focus is not going to be strictly vegetarian recipes. I have plenty of recipes that include meat. My days start with a large cup of coffee and a walk on the treadmill or a hike through Saguaro National Park. It continues in the kitchen either testing a recipe, writing one, or working on my new website! The cookbook is taking longer than I anticipated, so I decided to start sharing my recipes online and to start to gather a following. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions and don’t forget to subscribe to never miss a recipe!

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