Day 81: Spelt Pizza with Ricotta and Spicy Greens
Continuing with our vegetable theme for the week, I wanted to share with you one of my current obsessions: spelt pizza. And not just any spelt pizza, but this one, topped with ricotta, sauteed greens, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. OMG. The combination not only looks beautiful, but it's absolutely delicious. And compared to many of the cheese-and-meat-laden pizzas out there, it's actually pretty healthy.
I created this as an appetizer for the Garden Harvest Party, using green onions and baby Swiss chard pulled straight from the garden. I also made another version, with the same spelt and ricotta combo, only topped with baby kale tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.
Some of you may be wondering what spelt is. Good question! It's an ancient grain with loads of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, and with an amazing nutty flavor. It's also much lower in gluten than wheat, and much more easily digestible. If you're gluten-sensitive, it's worth experimenting with spelt in lieu of wheat flour. (Here's an interesting article on the subject.) However, spelt is NOT gluten-free, so if you're celiac, stay away.
I've made this dough three times now and experimented with letting it rise for different amounts of time. The first version (at the harvest party), we just dumped all the ingredients in a bowl, mixed them, and let them rise for about 15 minutes. The dough lacked flavor, and had a nearly cracker-like consistency.
I made it again for a party last week and let the yeast, warm water, and honey bubble together for 10 minutes and then added the dry ingredients. I mixed everything together and let that rise for another 30. Those pizzas turned out really good - with a more flavorful, chewy crust. But the winner was the dough I let sit overnight in the fridge - though I had to add a good bit more flour to it before baking (it was really sticky), it had by far the best flavor and consistency.
Give this a try over the weekend if you want a fun cooking project. This would be especially fun with kids, as they'll love getting their hands dirty, kneading the dough and rolling it out. You could even do little personal pizzas if you wanted!