We may not have watched the Superbowl, but my family made sure to observe another cherished all-American tradition today: eating pizza, of course! However, when I realized we only had three miniscule beets left, I found myself scrounging for toppings. A raid of the fridge turned up three small cremini mushrooms and an onion. What truly saved the day however, was my tiny backyard garden. While this year’s crop is limping along, if it wasn’t already devoured by birds a few days after sprouting, there are still a handful of beet plants that somehow escaped harvest last summer. They have been biding their time patiently, shimmering ruby leaves suspended above their stunted roots, for over a year. Today, it was finally time for a haircut. I’m very curious to see whether they will regrow new leaves, or even produce seed since they are biennial! In the meantime, the leaves were perfect atop pizza, able to withstand the flare of the oven and soften under a bubbly layer of cheese. A sprinkle of calendula petals (self-seeded by last year’s flowers) was the perfect final touch. Still amazes me that the garden is still providing for us and remaining nearly weed free after being left to its own defenses for much of the year. And this festive, attractive, tasty pizza is hard to beet!
Beet & Calendula Pizza
3-4 beets, peeled and cubed
Coursely chopped onion
Salt and pepper
Beet greens, chopped (2-3 cups)
3-5 mushrooms, sliced (optional, not sure it added much)
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
Calendula petals for garnish (optional)
Prepare pizza dough. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375ºF. Coat beets in oil and salt and pepper and roast for 25-35 minutes, until they begin to soften. Stir in onions with a little extra oil and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until beets and onions are tender. Meanwhile, toss beet greens, and mushrooms if desired, with a tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar. Alternately, the onions and mushrooms can be sauteed in a pan. When vegetables are roasted, increase temperature to 450ºF. Grease two baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch out dough, brush with oil, and sprinkle with a thin layer of beets greens. Sprinkle with mozzarella, then top with roasted beets and onions, along with mushrooms if desired. Crumble a bit of feta on top (maybe an ounce, or to taste) and sprinkle with parmesan, then bake for 8-12 minutes, until crust is set and cheese is bubbly and begins to brown. Sprinkle with calendula petals and enjoy!