I grew up on a farm. I shop at farmers' markets. I've gardened my entire life. But never once did I cross paths with the humble beet. Until last week that is. And woah baby, my life has been forever changed. Ok, maybe that's a bit drastic, but seriously, how did I manage the first 20 something years of my life without this beautiful little tuber. I hunted down my parents and demanded to know why we never grew beets in our garden, and do you know what my Dad said? "I hate beets." My father, lover of all vegetables, hates beets. I couldn't believe it.
Now in my humble opinion, generally when someone tells me that they hate a vegetable, they've probably not had that vegetable properly prepared. The beet, it turns out, is often tragically over-boiled. This is not the way to prepare beets my friends! A good roasting is all you really need to turn these jewel-toned beauties into showstoppers. Take for example, the following beet pizza recipe. With roasted beets worked into the dough to create a vibrant hue, a pesto sauce of beet greens, and fresh veggies layered on top, it's almost too pretty to eat. Almost. I served this gem of a pizza at a BBQ party of all places and every last piece was eaten. My Dad enjoyed two slices. Maybe we should rename this the "beet-converter" pizza? Enjoy!
Crust (makes two 12 inch crust)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoon active-dry
- 17 ounces (3 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¾ cup pureed beets (about 2 large beets, roasted and pureed with a bit of water)
Beet Green and Basil Pesto:
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup beet greens
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Topping (any veggies will work, although for veggies that require long cooking times, you will want to pre-cook or roast them in some way as they will not be spending much time in the pizza oven)
- Goat cheese
- 10-12 stalks of asparagus, trimmed, blanched and then tossed in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper
- 1 roasted beet, sliced
- 4 oz. mini heirloom tomatoes, halved
- 1 small purple onion sliced
- 1 handful of watercress (to add at the end)
To make crust:
Preparation: Place pizza stone on lower middle rack. Heat oven to 500° F.
- Combine and stir water, honey, and yeast in a mixing bowl until mixture bubbles. Add flour, salt, and pureed beets to yeast mixture and combine until dough just comes together.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until the flour is incorporated, about 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. The dough should be moist and slightly tacky. (If it’s too sticky, add in more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth). Form dough into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl and place dough in, turning once to coat dough with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area to double in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Once doubled evenly divide dough in half and refrigerate one half for another time or double the topping recipe to make two 12 inch pizzas.
- Lightly grease a sheet of parchment paper with olive oil. Transfer one ball of dough to parchment and stretch it out by hand as much as possible. Lightly brush olive oil on another piece of parchment paper and place it on top of hand-flattened dough. Use a rolling pin and work from the middle of the dough outward to flatten dough to ¼ inch thickness. Peel off top parchment paper.
- Blend pesto ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Evenly spread pesto on the crust with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, leaving ½ inch border. Top with 3 oz. goat cheese on top and layer with asparagus, soft boiled egg slices, mini heirloom tomatoes and remaining 1 oz .of goat cheese.
- Slide the pizza (with the parchment underneath) on to the hot pizza stone. Bake for 3-5 minutes until pizza crust starts to slightly brown. Rotate the pizza once and remove parchment, continue to bake for another 3 minutes. Remove from oven. Optional: Garnish and with watercress, or any choice of greens you prefer. Slice and serve.