Makes about 16 3-inch pizzas
For the pesto:
1/4 cup (40g) unsalted almonds
1 large handful (about 25g) trimmed and chopped kale leaves
1/2 to 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and white ribs removed, chopped (see note)
1 large garlic clove (about 5g), chopped
1/4 cup (24g) pecorino romano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
one 18-ounce (510g) package prepared polenta
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
48 cherry tomatoes (about 230g)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (57g) goat cheese, crumbled
flaky sea salt, for garnish
freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
red pepper flakes, for garnish
To prepare the pesto:
Place the almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, and cook until they are fragrant and deeply toasted, 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the almonds to a small bowl or plate, and place in the freezer until cool, about 5 minutes.
Place the cooled almonds in a food processor, then add the kale, chopped jalapeño, garlic, grated cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process in short bursts until the mixture is smooth and no large pieces of nuts remain, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Then, with the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow stream and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small container and use immediately, or keep refrigerated for up to one week. If refrigerating, allow the pesto to warm to room temperature before use, or heat it slightly in the microwave—do not cook the pesto or the flavor will diminish.
Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil—if using foil, brush it lightly with olive oil.
Slice the polenta into 16 circular slices about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the slices on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly crispy around the edges.
While the polenta is baking, place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, add the cherry tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have burst and softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Once the polenta is done baking, spread each slice with a generous spoonful of pesto, then top with 3 cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle crumbled goat cheese over the tomatoes, and garnish with flaky sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes as desired. Serve warm, and enjoy!
Note: Jalapeño peppers can vary widely in heat level. Start with half a pepper, and taste the pesto before adding the second half if needed.