Alexa Arnold has spent much of her adult life around farmers and farm products. She served as the assistant manager at the Lexington farmers’ market (www.lexingtonfarmersmarket.com) for one and a half years, and is now a community organizer for Community Farm Alliance with a focus on eastern Kentucky and overall market development. Farmers and fresh farm food are always on her mind.
“One of my favorite things to make is homemade pizza,” says Alexa, “mostly because it’s perfect with whatever you’ve got on hand.”
For Alexa, that doesn’t mean tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
At the end of winter, it might mean she’s making her “personal favorite” pizza, combining “some kind of goat cheese” with fresh herbs and butternut squash. But with spring officially here, she’s ready with another favorite: asparagus, goat cheese, arugula, and green onions. Pesto spread makes a tasty break from tomato sauce.
“I view pizza as a ‘gateway’ food” for eating food in season, says Arnold, always thinking of what farmers can provide for toppings. “You can put anything on the pizza and it can actually be pretty healthy.”
Alexa’s Spring Pizza
1-1⁄2 C flour
3⁄4 Tsp active dry yeast
1 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1⁄2 C warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 lb bacon
3⁄4 lb asparagus
1 small bunch green onions
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz arugula (2 handfuls)
1⁄2-1 C basil pesto
4-5 oz fresh goat cheese
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add water and olive oil and stir mixture into a ball. On a floured surface knead into a ball for about 3 minutes.
Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough ball back in, and turn it over so all sides are coated with oil. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two in a warm place. When the dough has doubled in size, roll it out to fit a 12- or 14-inch pizza pan.
Heat oven to 375°. Cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp. Chop or crumble the bacon. Discard bacon fat. Thinly slice asparagus lengthwise. Chop green onions and garlic. Heat olive oil in the skillet and add asparagus, onion, and garlic. Cook 3 or 4 minutes, until asparagus is bright green but still crisp. Spread pesto on pizza dough and top with vegetables, bacon, and cheese. Bake for about 10 to 20 minutes: crust should be golden. Cool for a few minutes, top with arugula, and serve. Serves 3-4.
Broccoli and Tortellini Salad
12 oz bacon, cooked crispy (reserve 1/3 for top)
20 oz fresh or frozen cheese tortellini (tri-color is great)
1 C mayonnaise
1⁄3 C white sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 heads fresh broccoli, stems removed, florets cut into bite-size pieces
1 C raisins or dried cranberries
1 C sunflower seeds
3 green onions, finely chopped
Ground pepper, to taste
Cook bacon until crisp; drain, crumble, and set aside. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook tortellini in boiling, salted water according to package directions, or for about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar to make the dressing. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, tortellini, bacon (reserve a small amount for top), raisins or dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and onion. Pour dressing over salad and toss; ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle top with reserved bacon right before serving. Serve at room temperature, or chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Serves 6 as main dish, 12 as side dish.
Submitted by HOLLY CLARK, Louisville, who says, “This delicious entrée salad is great for a group luncheon, pot luck, or a fix-ahead family dinner. Consider leaving the bacon on the side for vegetarians.”