Having lived in the South where fresh, local produce is sold out of the back of people’s pick up trucks or at roadside stands, I was spoiled before I moved to Alaska. When I moved in 2010, I arrived mid-winter, so my first visit to a Fairbanks Safeway left a lot to be desired. The shelves were stocked like every other grocery store shelf in America, but the tomatoes were paler, the apples mealier, and the lettuce more wilted than the average winter-stocked produce section. That’s to be expected since we live so.far.away.
As soon as summer rolled around, we purchased a CSA from a local farm, which was such a welcomed change. I was convinced I’d discovered the fountain of youth in the form of carrots, kohlrabi, and curly kale because I felt like my 6 year old excited self on Christmas, walking up to the farm stand, wondering what the week’s veggies were going to be. I imagined buckets full of beets , brussel sprouts, and leeks and all the meals I was going to make with veggies as the star. As the summer wore on, the CSA box got fuller and fuller.
Back in 2010, there was talk of a year-round co-op market opening in town. At every fair and farmer’s market, there was someone recruiting members and sharing their vision of “more happy people, more local economy, and more healthy food with a mission to offer organic, sustainably produced food and local products year round.” This particular vision was one I could see clearly and one I really wanted to see successfully shared with the masses.
After several years in the works, it finally opened last year, and it is wonderful. We stopped by last weekend to buy some local steaks when I saw the gorgeous produce and it took me back to that giddy feeling I got when I went to pick up the CSA box a couple years ago. Look at this!
Then, I saw the beets.
Screw steaks! Our dinner menu changed the moment I saw these beautiful, matte surfaced gems. I grabbed a bunch, headed home, and went to the drawing board and came up with a recipe for a delicious grilled pizza, using the Dandelion and Beet Green Pesto I made.
Of course it’s grilled! It’s summer!!
Though I have to admit, I was a little late jumping on the grilled-pizza bandwagon. That was dumb because they are delicious!
Not to mention, beautiful. Char makes everything taste and look better.
Note: A pizza crust was burned in the making of this recipe. When we started, the grill was a bit too hot. By too hot, I mean, it would singe the hair off your arms if you got too close. Make sure the grill is close to medium heat. If you’re using charcoal like I did, play with the vents until the grill reaches a temperature where you can hold your hand about 8 inches from the grate for a few seconds without wanting to jerk away.
Another note: I used mozzarella on one of the pizzas, in addition to the blue cheese, and it really didn’t add anything to the flavor. If anything, it concealed the flavors I loved the most about the pizza. Don’t use mozz unless you want to hide the flavors.
Get ready, folks. Next week, I’ll be down south eating barbecue and banana pudding. This blog and its posts are going country for a few weeks! 🙂
- For the dough:
- 1¼ cups warm water (about 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1½ Tbsp. dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- For the topping:
- 4 medium beets, roasted and thinly sliced
- 1 cup dandelion and beet green pesto
- 1 lb. prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
- 8 oz. good blue cheese, crumbled
- Olive Oil for drizzling
- For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add ½ cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, adding a little bit more flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
- When the dough looks as though it's smooth and elastic to the touch, take out of the bowl and place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil so it doesn't get crusty. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for about 45 minutes at room temperature.
- Divide the dough into six equal dough balls. Roll each one until it is smooth. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on a plate. Cover with the same damp towel while the grill is heating.
- Heat the grill to medium-low. When heated, place pizza dough, two at a time, on the grate, and cook for five minutes. Flip and begin dressing the pizza with pesto first, beet slices second, prosciutto, and blue cheese lastly. Drizzle with good olive oil and close the grill. Cook for 5 minutes more or until the topping have warmed.
- Cut into slices and enjoy warm or cold.
- **Note: To roast beets, trim off tops, cut a few holes in each, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in oil. Place in a 400 degree oven and cook for about 45 minutes. Don't worry about peeling them. Once they've cooked and cooled, the skin comes off easily.