Sunday, July 14, 2013

Garden Fresh "Gourmet" Pizzas

Fresh, gooey & delicious!
At this point in the summer, our Optimistic Garden begins to yield some of its initial bounty. It’s fantastically exciting to pick our first little tomatoes, mint, chamomile, rhubarb, basil and peppers.  This year we bought some unique hot pepper plants: jalapeno, Kung Pao, Hot Banana, Chili and others.  I actually picked the super-hot peppers wearirng gloves!  My favorite pepper plants are the jalapeno purple peppers.  They are really beautiful, with little purple flowers and eggplant colored peppers. I wondered though, at the wisdom of planting so many varieties of hot peppers. I mean, what am I going to do with all the hot peppers we’re picking?? (Read: Sharon picked a pack of purple peppers). The rest of our “crops” don’t take a lot of creativity to figure out how to use.  The kids eat the little tomatoes as fast as I can pick them!   I use the mint and basil for pesto and other recipes. I have started drying out the mint and storing it in mason jars to use for mint tea (the chocolate mint is particularly awesome…think peppermint patty tea), and have started to dry out the chamomile flowers but haven’t yielded more than enough for a single, but superb, cup of fresh chamomile tea. 

Hungarian Black Jalapeno Peppers!
(They're really purple though!)
Chamomile tea anyone??

I have been very perplexed about those hot purple peppers.  I really wanted to find a recipe that would not only highlight the great hot and spicy flavor of the peppers, but would showcase the gorgeous color of the unusual peppers.  Luckily inspiration struck when we were in LA while walking down Pico Avenue.  One store had a menu taped to its window advertising a “cool” hot pizza using marinara sauce, jalapeno peppers, and cheese.  Lightbulb moment!!  What if I made my ubiquitous pizza crust using whole wheat pastry flour (to make it a little heartier), topped it with a light layer of our favorite marinara, finely diced the fabulous purple jalapeno peppers and sprinkled them on top of the sauce, topped that with some marinated fresh mozzarella cheese, then baked it on a pizza stone for a super crispy crust?  Crazy right?  Holy Cow – it was insanely, awesomely, delicious!!  Surprisingly, the purple peppers weren’t quite as hot as I thought they were going to be, so while the pizza was a little spicy it wasn’t “OMG get me a glass of water crazy spicy” and in fact had a nice little spicy after taste. 

While I was already making Gourmet Pizza, I figured…what other kind of pizza can I make using ingredients from our Optimistic Garden?  I had some Garden Fresh Pesto in the fridge and extra whole wheat pastry flour pizza dough.  I spread a thin layer of the super fresh tasting Garden Fresh Pesto on the crust, placed a handful of Optimistic Garden green and purple basil leaves on top of the pesto, then topped a single piece with Trader Joes goat cheese feta (I wasn’t sure how the feta would go over with the troops), and sprinkled the rest of the pizza with shredded pizza cheese.  All I can say is good things happen when I MacGyver in the kitchen (BH!).  The pizza was SO fresh tasting!  I liked the feta cheese piece, and the crowd at home inhaled the rest.  I was a little surprised that both pizzas went over so well.  I had also made some more traditional pizzas too (just in case), but the hands down favorites were the “gourmet” ones.  Who would have thunk it??

During the warm, sunny, Chicago summer days, we go outside to tend to our Optimistic Garden and inspect the newly flowering plants.  We make great optimistic plans for what we will do with the bountiful harvest that our garden yields.  More garden fresh pizza’s in the Matten family’s future perhaps?  B”H, it’s all good.

You can find additional articles and recipes relating to this blog via: Garden Fresh Pesto and Pizza to the Rescue.

Pizza Dough 
2 ½ - 3   cups       whole wheat pastry flour
1              cup         apple juice (or warm water)
1              envelope rapid rise yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
1 ½         tbsp       olive oil
½             tsp          salt
Nonstick vegetable spray

Combine apple juice and yeast.  Allow mixture to sit for 3 minutes until yeast is dissolved and starting to bubble.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, olive oil and salt.  Stir in apple juice/yeast, and knead for 3-5 minutes until dough is smooth.  Remove dough from bowl and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Return dough to bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap or towel and allow dough to sit for at least 5 minutes.  (Makes one 16” pizza crust or two thin 12” pizza crusts)

Garden Fresh Pesto
This pesto has a little kick to it from the crushed red pepper.  For a milder, less spicy pesto reduce or omit the crushed red pepper and black pepper.
4                                              ripe plum tomatoes, cubed
1              cup                         fresh parsley leaves
½             cup                         fresh mint leaves
½             cup                         fresh basil leaves
½             teaspoon             crushed red pepper
½             teaspoon             black peper
⅓             cup                         extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor bowl.  Pulse until ingredients are coarsely ground.  Add the olive oil and pulse until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend. 

Spicy Jalapeno Pizza with Fresh Marinated Mozzarella
(Makes one 12” pizza)
½ recipe Pizza Dough
¼ cup marinara sauce
1 medium jalapeno pepper finely diced
8 ounces fresh marinated mozzarella cheese, sliced

Preheat oven to 375° F Convection or 400° F Bake.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough to a 12” round.  If not using a pizza stone, lightly grease a 12” pizza pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

Place dough on a round pizza stone or prepared pan.  Evenly spread marinara sauce over the dough.  Sprinkle the dough with the diced jalapeno pepper.  Top with the fresh marinated mozzarella cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Pesto Pizza with Fresh Basil
(Makes one 12” pizza)
½ recipe Pizza Dough
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
8 ounces shredded pizza or part skim mozzarella cheese (or feta cheese)

On a lightly floured surface, roll pizza dough to a 12” round.  If not using a pizza stone, lightly grease a 12” pizza pan with non-stick vegetable spray.

Place dough on a round pizza stone or prepared pan.  Evenly spread the pesto over the dough.  Sprinkle the dough with the fresh basil leaves.  Top with the shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

 Spicy Jalapeno Pizza with Fresh Marinated Mozzarella

Start with Dear Husbands favorite cheese...
Dice a spicy jalapeno pepper...I seeded
this one so it wouldn't be too hot!
(Purple ones are prettier!!)
 Spread the sauce...
 Top with the peppers...
 Silly me...thought I could use only 1/2 a package
of cheese...wait and see what happens...
 Who was I kidding??
Add the rest of the package for 
heaven's sake!!
 Much better!!
That piece is MINE!!!

Pesto Pizza with Fresh Basil
Start with super fresh ingredients...
It doesn't get fresher than this!
After making the pesto, spread
it on the pizza.  Not too much
or it will be too liquidy.
Top with fresh basil.  Yes...
we're growing purple basil too!! 
 Top with your favorite cheese...
here's the feta (it was really good!)
 Or...shredded cheese...
Bake until bubbly... 

And now...
a little optimism from our garden...

Here's what I do with my time....
(when I'm not writing the fabulous Kosher Everyday!)

Kosher Everyday is dedicated to the memory of my father
Dr. Theodore Saltzberg - Tuvia Ben Nachum Z”L
May his memory be for a blessing - Yihi zichro baruch.

Look for additional information about Edible Experience Kosher Everyday at,, Mishpacha Magazine’s Kosher Inspired Magazine,
The Chicago Tribune Syndication,
 or on Facebook at Edible Experience by Sharon Matten.

These recipes are for sole, personal use of visitors to Sharon Matten -Edible Experience Kosher Everyday. Edible Experience Kosher Everyday recipes are for your enjoyment but are not to be posted or reprinted without express permission from Sharon Matten. Thank you!!

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