In the northeastern part of the U.S., beets are in season at our local farmers’ markets and CSAs. They come in a magnificent array of colors: deep ruby red, orange, and white. But did you know that the leaves of beets are edible? Beet greens are nutrient-rich, and are a good source of iron, protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and fiber.
I like to serve them sauteed with a little garlic, onion, salt, and pepper, or add them to a frittata or omelet with a little parmesan cheese. OhMyVeggies.com inspired me to make pesto using beet greens instead of basil, which turned out delicious! I decided to use the pesto on a grilled pizza, which I topped with sliced beets, walnuts, goat cheese, garlic and herbs. It was delicious, and I think you will agree once you try it.
Pizza Dough Ingredients:
- 1-1/2 cup unbleached white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup warm water (110 – 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1-2 tbsp medium grind cornmeal, whole grain, and stone ground for sprinkling the parchment on the pizza pan
Beet Green Pesto Ingredients:
- Greens from the tops of 5-6 beets, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds and walnuts (roast nuts in 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for 6-8 minutes)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper
- 1/4 cup safflower or extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Pizza Dough Instructions:
Makes one large 11.5×17 inch or two 12-inch pizzas
- Heat water to 115 degrees Fahrenheit; use a thermometer to check the temperature. (Ensure the water temperature is not higher, as it can kill the yeast.) Add the sugar and stir into the warm water to dissolve, then add the yeast and stir again. Let the mixture set for five minutes until it is bubbly.
- Add the two types of flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, stirring to incorporate. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the oil and yeast mixture to that well. Combine all ingredients till the dough creates a nice ball that easily comes away from the sides of the bowl. Depending upon humidity, you may need to add more water, one teaspoon at a time, until you have a soft dough consistency, like soft play dough.
- Put a clean kitchen towel over the bowl and let it rise for one hour or until the dough doubles. I like to put mine in the microwave to rest.
- Divide the pizza dough into two balls.
Beet Green Pesto Instructions:
- In a food processor or blender, place the beet greens, garlic, roasted nuts, salt, and pepper; pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
- Slowly drizzle the oil into the chopped beet green mixture while the food processor runs. Add in the parmesan cheese and blend well. Set aside.
Assembling Your Pizza:
- Place a 14.5×16.5 pizza stone on the grill and heat medium-high at 375°- 450° F for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Line an 11.5×17 inch baking sheet pan without sides (it makes it easier to slide the pizza on and off the stone) with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Place the whole pizza dough ball over the prepped parchment paper and roll with a small rolling pin or stretch by hand—an option for dividing the dough into two dough balls forming two 12-inch circles.
- Brush the top of the pizza with a little oil and grill for 6-8 minutes.
- Top the pizza with beet green pesto, sliced beets, crumbled goat cheese, and walnuts.
- Return to the grill, sliding the parchment paper with the pizza carefully to the pizza stone. Grill for 8-10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes to see how the bottom of the crust looks and the cheese is slightly golden.
- Remove the pizza from the grill using silicone oven mitts by sliding the parchment paper back onto the sheet pan, then slide the pizza onto a large cutting board, and with a pizza cutter, cut the pizza into 12 equally cut slices and serve. Optionally, I love red pepper flakes sprinkled on this pizza.
- If creating two pizzas, divide the ingredients for the toppings in half.
- To use the beets as a garnish for the pizza, wash them and place them in a 2-quart saucepot with 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the beets are soft when sticking with a fork; once they are cool, peel, slice, and set aside.
A second optional pizza can be made using the beet green pesto with tomatoes and cheese
- 5 tomatoes, washed, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and drained of its juices
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Recipe compliments of OPL Master Naturalist and Home Chef Yvonne Dwyer