Friday, April 22, 2011

Balsamic Chard Pizza with Fig-Infused Goat Cheese

Photo by Sergio Salvador  www.salvadorphoto.com
Chard is one of those veggies that's incredibly good for you, and it's at its best when dressed with balsamic vinegar and lots of black pepper. If you've never liked chard before, it's worth trying this way. A funny thing about chard is that it is naturally a bit salty, so I don't like to add too much salt when cooking it. It's actually the same exact plant species as beets, just bred for tender leaves rather than big roots. Amazingly hardy, chard is one of the best vegetables to grow in New Mexico because it can tolerate the intense heat of our summers as well as the cold nights of early spring and late fall. For these reasons, it is abundant at our farmers' markets three seasons of the year.

For this pizza, I combined Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook recipe for Swiss chard with the creamy, tangy sweetness of dried figs mixed with goat cheese. It's a perfect spring treat that's absolutely packed with vitamins and minerals. Try a whole wheat crust if you want to go extra-healthy.

Balsamic Chard:
1 large bunch chard
1 T. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. balsamic vinegar
A pinch of salt and lots of pepper
Roll the whole bunch of chard together tightly (leave the stems on – they're delicious!) and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons. Heat olive oil on medium flame and fry the garlic until fragrant, then add the chard. Cook until completely wilted and dark green, then toss with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Fig-Infused Goat Cheese:
½ C. dried figs, chopped
½ C. goat cheese
Soak the figs in just enough hot water to cover. Mix thoroughly with goat cheese.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:
1 package (2 t.) active dry yeast
1 t. sugar
2/3 C. warm water
1 C. all-purpose flour
2/3 C. whole wheat flour
3/4 t. salt
2 t. oil

Preheat the oven to 450Âș F. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor or bowl. Add yeast mixture and combine thoroughly (or process for 45 seconds, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl). Add oil and knead or process for another minute. If the dough sticks to the sides of the bowl, add more flour. Roll it out on a floured surface, or just stretch it to the right size with your hands. Place on a lightly oiled pizza pan. Top with chard and dot with goat cheese. Bake 20 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown. Serves 2 as a main dish.
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