Summer Family Friendly Garden Pizza and Chipotle Chili Made from Your Garden
By Samantha Gianulis
Using a mandoline to get the vegetables thinly and equally sliced gives the pizza an advantage here. A pizza stone also makes a positive difference for cooking ease and crust crispiness.
Thinly sliced in-season vegetables and herbs (what works well; yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus spears, rosemary, parsley)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
Pizza crust (from scratch or store bought – try one made from sweet potatoes, cauliflowers or whole wheat)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (2% or a combination of cheeses you prefer – hard cheese does not melt as well)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, or according to pizza crust instructions.
Pour 1/2 – 1 tbsp. of olive oil into a dish.
Mix in minced garlic and shallots.
With a pastry brush, paint the garlic, shallot and olive oil mixture onto the raw pizza dough.
Cook in oven according to pizza dough instructions to achieve a golden crust appearance. The crust should be firm enough
Next, lay a piece of parchment paper onto a cookie sheet.
Spread out your vegetables (except red onion) on paper/sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes in same 400 degree oven.
Brush lightly, or even better, mist the vegetables with olive oil. *
When vegetables are removed from oven, they should be beginning to brown and have lost some of their liquid.
Place any chopped herbs onto crust, and vegetables over herbs.
Salt and pepper the vegetables
Sprinkle cheese over vegetables.
Cook pizza according to crust instructions, or just until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.
Remove pizza room oven and let cool until crust can be handled.
* Oil misters are available at most grocery stores. If you can’t find one, paint veggies with pastry brush or drizzle from bottle.
CROCK POT CHIPOTLE CHILI
For those nights when winter decides not to leave without a fight. If you make this on March 18th, add any beer you didn’t drink the night before.
1.5 lbs. lean ground beef (ground turkey can be substituted)
(1) 14.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
14.5 oz. can chili beans, not drained
2 cups tomato puree
1 tbsp. chipotles in adobo sauce for spicy, 1 tsp. for mild heat *
(1) 4 oz. can diced green chilies
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 packet low sodium chili seasoning (or a mixture of the following: 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. paprika, 1/2 tbsp. onion powder, 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. mustard powder, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes)
Optional: 1 can of corn, drained
Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve over rice or baked potatoes.
* Freeze the remaining adobo sauce and chilies.
Seasons On My Mind While Cooking….
Spring – time to MARCH on. The winter lingers maybe, but the sun stays out a little bit longer each night. Branches of trees look barren still, but tulip bulbs force their way through the earth that was pelted with rain and freezing snow. Chirps of birds are more audible and cheer the bridging of snowfall to melted snowflakes in swelling rivers. And while corned beef and cabbage, green beer and shamrock sugar cookies dominate the grocery store ads, colorful spring vegetables soon burst from the bins in the produce aisles, and you can practically taste solstice and sunshine.
>We notice, and arguably even look for, subtle signs of seasonal changes long before we are aware of how badly we need them. Without even doing research on the emotional impact of an equinox, I believe we’re programmed for renewal. Almost as if our bodies are pulled outside by a spring day’s additional rays of sun, craving more light, yearning for a change up in Mother Nature’s pitch rotation. We need something in which to look forward.
Summer gets a lot of attention for fun and freedom, but what would it be without spring first? The boys of summer, their first pitch is thrown in spring. Summer tans are started on school breaks or in the sideline seats of ball games in the spring. Summer crops – the ones that bring you Caprice salads al fresco and juicy watermelon slices by the shore – those get planted in spring.
All those things we love about freedom-filled summers have roots in the promising and preparing of spring. You take one little seed and plant it in spring, which in itself is a miracle waiting to reveal cycles of life we (I, at least) rarely ponder enough, and that little seed, planted in the earth, gets water, sunshine, guidance from a trellis or something similar perhaps, and poof!, a sprout. Next, bam! a plant. And finally, a fruit or vegetable stands tall in the garden, waiting to be admired for all its accomplished maturity and beauty.
Each spring, there comes a time when I wander out into the garden on a crisp, dewy spring morning and check on that seedling, among the others, not just a couple of times a week, but every single day. Predictably, I eyeball the growth, worried about bad critters getting too close to it when I’m not looking, and I even encourage the seedlings with words (“GROW!”, or something gentler). And, as is human nature, I instinctively invest part of me into that seeding-sprout-plant because, as sunshine and water are vital for plants, hope and anticipation are just as imperative to me. Gardeners, parents, gardeners who are parents…the magic happens right before our eyes and the spurts and progress take our breath away.
Spring. It’s when you get attached. And summer is just a state of mind.
This year, the vernal (or spring) equinox falls on March 20th. For some people it comes and goes, but my little gardeners (seedlings) and I celebrate the changing of seasons by tilling our soil, then planting new varieties of fruits and vegetables, to see what takes. I prune the crops that thrive year round, they do cartwheels when last year’s plants reappear, and always, always, we do the garden watch after the equinox planting.
My children watch the plants grow as I watch the children grow. Someday, they’ll get the symbolism. I don’t care when. It’s the ritual that matters.
And the meals. Put love in, it comes right back, season after season.