Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dandelion and Tomato Pizza

And now for something completely different--a recipe!

I no longer consider dandelions a weed and find the greens add a delicious tang to a salad. On my walk on a town trail that is away from the road and in my backyard that I don't treat with any chemicals,* I have been finding many more greens than I can use for salad, so began looking for ways to use them. This pizza is one result that I adapted from a tomato and spinach recipe of my own creation.
*One caution—make sure the dandelions you harvest are growing where there are no pesticide or herbicide applications and away from the roads since they will absorb the pollution from exhaust and run-off.

The recipe includes making the dough, so appears longer and more complicated than it is.

Dandelion and Tomato Pizza
Prep time: 1 hr (if making dough); cook time: 25 – 30 min.

Equipment: Pizza stone or large cookie sheet if don’t have stone
Pizza dough (you can buy the dough in most supermarkets if you don’t want to make it):
(Makes 14” round pizza)
½ cup more or less warm water
¼ cup vegetable oil or olive oil for cooking (veg. oil makes a lighter dough)
1 tsp dry active yeast + ¼ tsp sugar
1-½ cups flour
Put yeast and sugar in a bowl and add about ¼ cup of the warm water. Let proof for 5 to 10 minutes until yeast starts foaming. Put all of the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the proofed yeast. Fold in flour and add water as needed. Knead until dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Put on floured board and knead until dough becomes elastic.
Pour a couple of tablespoons in bowl and add dough and coat with oil. Cover with a towel and place in warm spot. Let dough rise to double in bulk.
4 – 6 cups raw dandelions chopped
4 or 5 plum tomatoes sliced into eight-inch rounds
4 – 6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
4 Tbs minced cilantro (or parsley if you don’t like cilantro)
4 – 5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 – 2 tbs olive oil
pinch baking soda
salt & pepper to taste
semolina flour to keep pizza from sticking
While the dough is rising, wash and roughly chop the dandelion greens. Bring water to a boil and add a pinch of baking soda to take the bitterness out of the greens. Blanch the greens for no more than two minutes and immediately immerse greens in cold water to stop cooking. Let greens drain while dough is rising.
Chop cilantro and crush garlic into a small dish and add olive oil. Shred cheese and slice tomatoes.
When dough is ready to be rolled out, preheat oven to 425°F (If you have a pizza peel, preheat stone too.) Place dough on floured board, lightly knead to get any air bubbles out and then roll out to about a 14” round shape. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of semolina on the stone, peel, or cookie sheet (I prefer semolina over all-purpose flour because it doesn’t smoke). Lightly fold dough in quarters to transfer to stone and then unfold.
With a pastry brush, spread the cilantro, garlic, and oil mix on the dough. Then spread the blanched dandelions to cover the dough, leaving about a half inch from the edge. Then arrange the tomato rounds to cover the dandelions and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Finally, cover with the shredded mozzarella and bake for about 25 minutes until crust is crisp on bottom and lightly browned on edges.
Note: if substitute spinach for dandelions, can spread raw spinach on dough—no need to blanch.

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