Bountiful Beets = Pizza

In Missoula, August is a “glory” month for home gardeners. After planting, weeding, and watering the harvest can begin! Bumper crops of zucchini, green beans, basil, carrots, beets, onions, Swiss chard, kale, and lettuce are ready for picking. Now, the gardener’s dilemma begins: what to do with all the fresh food? One tasty solution in my kitchen is beet pizza. Yes, you read that correctly, beet pizza! And, you’ll use both the beet tops and roots in this recipe.
I make my own pizza dough (recipe below) but feel free to purchase pre-made dough at the grocery store. Many local stores carry Le Petit pizza dough which makes an excellent crust. You can also make your pizza on a French loaf, cut in half lengthwise, or on split English muffins (a favorite for the toddler crowd). Do note, if you make bread or muffin pizzas, your cooking time will be cut in half.

To begin, plan on making the pizza dough an hour or two before you cook the pizza. The dough will need time to rise. I often make mine in the morning before work and let it rise in the fridge through the day – just make sure you place the dough in a large enough bowl so it doesn’t “overflow” and make a mess!

Beet pizza

Pizza Dough

(recipe makes one large pizza crust or two small pizza crusts)

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 to 1 & 1/2  cups (or so) all-purpose, unbleached, white flour

I’m a fan of the one bowl, no mess on the cupboard, bread making. Here’s my bread/pizza dough process:

  1. Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Let sit 15-20 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add salt, olive oil, ground flax and cornmeal to the water mixture and stir.
  3. Add whole wheat flour and mix well.
  4. Add the all-purpose, white flour in ½ cup additions, stirring after each addition. Eventually, the dough will get too thick to stir with a spoon and will form a ball. At that point, knead the flour in with your hands. You can keep the dough ball in the bowl. Dust your hands with flour first or the dough will stick to you! Once you’ve added all the flour the dough ball will absorb, knead (in the bowl) for 5 minutes. Lightly grease the bowl and dough with olive oil, cover and set the bowl aside. Let the dough rise 40 to 60 minutes. When you’re ready to make the pizza crust, push the dough down, let rest for 5 minutes, then shape your crust.

While the dough is rising, get the rest of your pizza ingredients ready:

2 medium (or 3-4 small) beets: wash & remove the tops and reserve for later. Boil or roast the beets until done (30-40 minutes) then peel and slice thinly.

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

6-8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 pound (or so) mixed greens, cleaned, stems removed, and chopped. I like a mix of Swiss chard, beet greens, and kale but use whatever is ready in your garden. Mustard greens make for a nice spicy pizza!

Sauté the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes or so. Once they start to look opaque, add the greens and balsamic vinegar and sauté until the greens are wilted but not cooked all the way through. This will be your sauce base and they’ll continue to cook once you put the pizza in the oven.

¾ cup pecans, walnuts or almonds (or a mix of all three), lightly toasted. (To toast, place nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently).

6-8 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 cup (or so) fresh basal leaves, roughly chopped

Roll or hand shape your pizza crust, pinching up the edges to keep any liquids from spilling out. Before you place the crust on your pizza stone or pan, dust the pan with cornmeal. This will keep the crust from sticking to the pan.

Cover the crust with the greens, onion, & garlic mixture. Arrange the sliced beets over the greens. Sprinkle the nuts over the pizza. Dot the top with the goat cheese and spread ½ of the fresh basal leaves over everything. Bake in a preheated oven at 375-400 degrees for 20 minutes. Check the pizza at 15 minutes for doneness.

Once you take the pizza from the oven, add the rest of the fresh basil. You can also top the cooked pizza with freshly grated Parmesan to taste. Enjoy!