Arugula and fava bean pesto pizza with sage polenta crust

DSC03659 Although I was fortunate enough to source most of the toppings for this gluten-free pizza from work, I was unduly proud to make a pesto from the arugula and parsley in my very modest (and very neglected) veggie garden. Despite being under-irrigated and having bolted, the arugula was wonderfully peppery and forgiving of my neglect.

Make this for someone special.

Musical inspiration: Winterlong, Neil Young.

Herbed polenta crust

A slight adaptation on this recipe from Vegetarians in Paradise.

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 cups coarse organic corn meal
  • 1.5 Tbsp fresh savory and sage, finely minced

DSC03651 Bring the water, salt and oil to a boil in a saucepan. Add the cornmeal and stir vigorously with a wire whisk or fork. Reduce heat to medium-high, and stir for 5-6 minutes. Add the herbs to the mixture, which will resemble stodgy oatmeal.

Pour the polenta onto a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan, and spread it evenly using a spatula.

Arugula and fava bean pesto

  • 1 cup cooked fava beans (roughly 15 pods). If you have never cooked fava beans before, here is an easy-to-follow guide. I enjoy eating the inner skins, but fancier folks than I advocate shelling the beans twice.
  • 2.5 packed cups arugula, coarsely chopped
  • 1 packed cup of parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup combination of walnuts and sunflower seeds
  • *** 1/2 head of roasted garlic (please see “toppings” for roasting directions)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup water

After powdering the sunflower seeds and nuts, combine everything in a food processor or blender until it forms a smooth paste. It may be necessary to add a little more water to facilitate the rotation of the blades.

Suggested toppings

  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
  • 7 golden and red beets
  • 1 large leek, chopped into coins
  • 2 cups Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 large kale leaves, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp fresh, finely minced herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, etc.)
  • ***1/2 head of garlic

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Toss the potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, pepper and rosemary in a bowl. Bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 30 minutes, or until tender.

Roast the whole beets and leek together in a greased casserole dish with a heavy lid for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife can be easily inserted into the beets. No need to peel the beets, but chop off their stringy roots and stems before cubing them. If you are particularly concerned about these sorts of things, you might endeavour to keep the red beets from bleeding onto the golden beets.

***Although the garlic is intended for pesto purposes, it can be roasted concurrently with the other toppings. Chop off about 1/4 inch of half of a head of garlic, brush the exposed tips lightly with vegetable oil and wrap in recycled aluminum foil. Insert into the same casserole dish as the beets and leeks, and roast for 30-40 minutes.

DSC03655 Spread the pesto thickly onto the pizza crust, leaving a 1.5″ margin from the edge of the cookie sheet.  Evenly distribute the potatoes, beets, leeks, mushrooms, kale and herbs (in that order) over the pesto.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 375°F.

Slice into rectangular pieces and eat outdoors if your August allows.

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