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‘Harvest Vegetable Pizza’ by Jennifer Fochek

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This harvest season marks the first anniversary of my return to Colorado.  After several years’ absence, I longed to feel a connection to my city and the people around me.  One of the first things I did to begin the process of making the place I had chosen to live feel like “home” was to go out to the local farmers’ market.  As a person whose life tends to revolve around food, I could think of no better way to ground myself in a new community, support the local economy, and meet some fantastic people.  Bringing home gorgeous produce was icing on the cake.

To celebrate the arrival of this year’s harvest season, I thought it would be fun to prepare something that incorporated Colorado’s fall bounty.  I settled on a harvest vegetable pizza, something that would be warm and comforting as the days grow shorter and the nights become crisp.  Never one to pass up a good opportunity for a “foodie” field trip, I put my ingredient list together and headed out to 

Berry Patch Farms in Brighton to experience some of the best produce Colorado has to offer.  I wasn’t disappointed!  I walked around their produce barn in gape-mouthed amazement, admiring the incredible colors and unique varieties.  Blue potatoes, yellow carrots, and purple beans are certainly new to me, as are Delicato squash, cipollini onions, and kohlrabi.  Talk about food heaven.

Berry Patch Farm visitors have the opportunity to pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the fields depending on the season, so I ventured out for raspberries and strawberries.  Once I had a full flat of fruit, I gathered up the ingredients I needed for the harvest vegetable pizza (and everything else I couldn’t resist in the produce barn) and headed home.  After a bit of chopping, roasting, kneading, and baking (see recipes below), I had a perfect fall meal.  The carrots, onions, and squash were delicately sweet, and I loved the hint of smokiness from the charred tips of the vegetables.  For as wonderful as the pizza tasted, the texture was out of this world; the crust was tender, the vegetables were perfectly roasted, and I really enjoyed the mix of creamy ricotta with more traditional mozzarella.  Knowing that all of the delicious produce incorporated into the meal came straight from Colorado fields made the experience even more satisfying.  Happy harvest, everyone!

Harvest Vegetable Pizza (adapted from Martha Stewart) 

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (for drizzling)
  • Flour (for dusting surface)
  • 1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (below) or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough (fresh, or thawed if frozen)
  • 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 recipe Roasted Fall Vegetables (below)
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, whisked to loosen
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Brush a large, rimless baking sheet with oil or line it with parchment.  (A pizza stone can be used instead of a baking sheet, if desired.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the dough to fit the baking sheet or pizza stone.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet or pizza stone.

Sprinkle the dough with half the mozzarella.  Scatter the vegetables on the dough and dollop with ricotta; top with the remaining mozzarella.  Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  Bake until bubbling and golden, 20 – 25 minutes.  Cut to serve.

Roasted Harvest Vegetables (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • ½ pound red new potatoes, well scrubbed and quartered
  • ½ pound medium red onions, peeled, quartered, and layers separated
  • ½ pound carrots, halved lengthwise (if thick) and cut into 1 ½-inch lengths
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place vegetables and garlic on the baking sheet.  Toss with oil, 1 teaspoon of coarse salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper.

Roast until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them halfway through.  (Vegetables can be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.  Drain any accumulated liquid before using.)

Basic Pizza Dough (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
  • ¼ cup of light-bodied white wine
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the water, wine, yeast, honey and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring until combined.  Let stand until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 ½ cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until everything is incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Continue adding the flour, ¼ cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky.  You may not need all of the flour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil the mixing bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.  Punch down the dough before rolling out the crust.

Blog written by Jennifer Fochek, author of Sweet and Saucy, http://sweetandsaucy.wordpress.com

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

‘Using My Backyard Grocery Garden Harvest’ by Vikki Lawrence-Williams

without comments

I love my “backyard grocery” garden! From the radiant plump raspberries to fat green zucchini to juicy ripe sweet tomatoes… eating from such a convenient grocery was unfathomable to me just a couple of years ago.  But I’ve worked hard and learned a lot, while making mistakes and experiencing intense pleasure and joy.  When I harvested my first homegrown blueberry, the burst of sun-warmed juice filled me with gratification.  I couldn’t imagine ever NOT growing at least some of my own food.

We are a family of picky eaters.  Two of us can’t have wheat.  One of us can’t have dairy.  One of us is pre-diabetic.   And one of us will eat almost anything while two of us don’t like cooked veggies (one of these is me… the cook and chief gardener!).  So I dehydrate almost everything we harvest.

Because I dehydrate most of our veggies, I had to come up with ways to use them.  Sometimes I slice the tomatoes, dry them, store them, and later rehydrate them to use on homemade pizza.  Same with bell peppers. 

All-Vegg Powder:
Most of our dried veggies are used to hide nutrients.  I slice thin (or break apart into small pieces), dehydrate for recommended times and sometimes a little longer to get them extra crispy and fragile.  Once dried, I place in baggies and then in a canning jar, label, screw on the lid and ring, and put them on my shelf, waiting for the next batch.  When I have enough of every veggie, I start to powder them.

I use a twist-top blender to grind the veggies.  Each veggie is done separately.  Here’s a rough proportion count:
2 cups dried tomatoes
1 cup dried carrots and cauliflower (each)
½ cup each of dried eggplant, okra, sweet pepper, etc.

When I’ve make a fine powder from a veggie, I place in a quart-size baggie and go on to the next veggie.  I add this to the baggie and continue until done.  Seal the baggie.  Shake to mix well.  Place the baggie in a large mason or other canning jar with a dried bay leaf laying on top of the baggie.  (Most kitchen insects don’t like bay leaves.)  Add the lid and ring. Label.  Place on a shelf.

Consider using: eggplant, okra, tomato, sweet pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, carrots, squash, parsley, pumpkin.  Sometimes I add onions and garlic too!

Clean a small used-but-empty herb or spice-shaker.  Should have a top.  Dry well.  Fill with the all-vegg powder.  Use to sprinkle on foods (either at the stove or on the table).  Use to add nutrients to anything: mashed potatoes, stews, soups, spaghetti or pizza sauce, stir-frys… your imagination is the key!

This is perfect way to eat your vegetables when your garden has a thick blanket of snow or ice, and you are anxiously awaiting Spring to start planting all over again. 

Hot Pepper Powder:
I make a special seasoning with hot peppers! I don’t add these to the All-Vegg Powder because not everyone likes heat in their food, and you can’t hide heat!  So I dry the hot peppers and radishes separately.  For the radishes (let them grow a little too big and they become spicier and hotter), I slice thin, dry, powder, and store in a labeled baby-food jar.  For the hot peppers, I put on gloves (very important!), harvest them, slice them in rings, keeping the seeds and ribs intact, and lay on the dehydrator to dry. Once brittle, I turn them into powder and stored in a different labeled baby-food jar.   (Wash the dehydrator trays and grinder very well to eliminate any residue that might heat-up your next project.) 

Sprinkle a little radish powder on a salad to spice it up!  Add some hot pepper powder (not too much!) to your favorite chili when it’s snowing outside.  Hmmmm yum!

All-Fruit Powder:
The same procedure can be done with fruit.  Once powdered, sprinkle on desserts, cereal, granola, oatmeal, etc.

For more information, please check out my blog at www.survival-cooking.com.  Thank you for reading!  Vikki Lawrence-Williams

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!