My favorite type of cooking is the kind where I have no plan, I simply let ingredients that I have on hand drive the final composition of a dish. In my refrigerator yesterday I found many many beets, a couple of artichokes (that I may have forgotten about for a while), a gigantic leek, some homemade creme fraiche, Lively Run chevre and a beautifully farm fresh banana pepper.
Staring at this pile of goodness, inspiration struck! ….Pizza!
Artichoke Vinaigrette Marinated Beets, Creamed Leeks and Quick-Pickled Banana Pepper Pizza with Goat Cheese
For the Dough:
- 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Heat your water to between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast and allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. After 15 minutes, you should see a nice foamy layer at the top of the water and it should smell (obviously) very yeasty.
In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour and the salt together. Form a well in the center of the bowl and add in the olive oil and the yeast mixture. Stir together with a fork until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead thoroughly until the dough has a nice elasticity and is smooth in appearance. Place into an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place in your kitchen, covered with a towel or plastic wrap, for one hour or until the dough is doubled in size.
Punch down the dough after an hour and roll out or stretch to your desired size and shape.
For the Creamed Leeks:
- 1 small leek, cleaned, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche
- salt and pepper
Place the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet. When warm, add the leeks, season with salt, and cook gently at this low temperature for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened to the point of melty-ness. Add the creme fraiche and some freshly cracked black pepper to the skillet and increase the heat. Stir over medium heat for about five minutes or until the creme fraiche has reduced slightly and the whole mixture is nice and bubbly hot. Set aside to cool.
For the Artichoke Vinaigrette:
- 2 artichokes, trimmed of most of their leaves
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- pinch of sugar
- 2 cloves roasted garlic
- 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon good olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To prepare the artichokes, I cut the top half of the leaves off. Then using a paring knife, I cut around the heart to remove all of the lower leaves. I used a spoon to scoop out the fuzzy choke. This will leave you with just the heart of the artichoke on its stem.
Drizzle the artichoke hearts with the teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and squeeze over the lemon wedge. Wrap the artichoke hearts along with the lemon wedge in an aluminum foil packet and roast in the oven for 25- 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a blender add the white wine vinegar, roasted garlic cloves, wholegrain mustard, salt and pepper and sugar and pulse a few times to combine. When the artichokes are cool enough to handle throw them into the blender and pulse to combine. Then with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until you have a nice emulsified vinaigrette. Taste and season accordingly.
For the Beets:
- 4-5 small purple beets
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Toss the beets with a little olive oil to coat and some salt and pepper and wrap them in an aluminum foil packet as well. Toss them into the oven along with the artichokes and roast for 45 to an hour or until a fork can easily be inserted and removed from the beets. Remove from the oven and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, gently remove the skins by holding the beets in your hand and squeezing them, the skin should slip off easily. When all of the beets have been peeled, slice them in to thin rounds and toss into the artichoke vinaigrette and set aside.
For the Quick-Pickled Banana Pepper:
- 1/4 white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 banana pepper, thinly sliced
Add the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a pot and bring to a boil. Make sure the salt and sugar are dissolved before pouring the boiling liquid over the banana pepper. Set aside to cool.
- 1/4 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1-2 leaves fresh sage, minced
To prepare the pizza, I stretched my dough out to a long rectangle. I placed it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet but if you have a pizza stone, by all means use it! I shmeared the creamed leeks all over the dough and then layered on the marinated beets, saving the leftover vinaigrette for this week’s salads, then sprinkled on a layer of the pickled pepper and covered the whole thing with a nice layer of goat cheese. I baked it in the 375 degree oven for 15- 20 minutes. You want the goat cheese to be ooey-gooey and the crust to be golden brown and delicious!
Sorry the photos are a bit crappy this round, I think I smudged some butter on my phone camera or something 😉
Make pizza night tonight and give this one a try! You won’t be disappointed! Cheers and enjoy!