By Himanee Gupta
A few weeks ago, an e-mail from The New York Times’ Cooking newsletter was headlined, “The best pizza topping is salad.” It featured a recipe for a simple green and white pizza made with either homemade or store-bought dough, mozzarella cheese, and that early spring favorite – pea shoots.
It looked delicious, and it affirmed the fact that a little imagination and a trip to the Wednesday or Saturday Saratoga Farmers’ Markets could produce a pizza topped with salads even better than that.
I spent the winter baking bread made from a sourdough starter I had procured from a farm in the Adirondacks last fall. At this time of year, I start hungering for homemade pizza, so I decided to turn some of my starter into pizza dough and to top the pizza with the early greens and dainty fresh vegetables that are starting to show up at the market in farmers’ stalls.
For that pizza, I began by pre-heating a cast-iron skillet in my oven to 500F degrees. A pizza stone will work just as well. While the oven heated, I stretched the dough I had prepared earlier onto a piece of parchment paper, and then let my imagination go.
I started with a brushing of olive oil, and then a layer of chopped green garlic from my farm Squash Villa. Over that came a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese and then a salad mix from the Gomez Veggie Ville that included baby kale and spinach leaves. I had a jar of pickled vegetables from Puckers Gourmet Pickles that included some bell pepper slices so I fished those out and added them on along with some sautéed oyster mushrooms from The Mushroom Shop, LLC and sliced radishes from Lovin’ Mama Farm. I added another layer of mozzarella cheese, and then some topped arugula, and a bit of parmesan cheese on top. I then slid the pizza, parchment, and all, into the hot pan and let it bake for about 12 minutes.
The result was a pizza that tasted like spring: crisp, nutty, mildly spicy, fresh, good, and green.
Spring in Saratoga is about those words – fresh, good, and green. At farmers’ markets, we bask in that freshness with an abundance of small seasonal wonders. If you’re looking for peppers, tomatoes, sweet onions, or zucchini, wait a bit longer. But now is the perfect time to create your own salad-topped pizzas with the types of produce that are in season from now through late May such as ramps, green garlic, and chives. Blend these aromatic alliums with roasted carrots, beets, radishes, and Hakurei turnips and spread them over a simple store-bought or homemade pizza dough. For an added boost of flavor, roll the dough through a mix of perennial herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary whose first sprigs are now being clipped and brought to market from overwintered plants. And try a sprinkling of lemony sorrel or nutty arugula on top.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at High Rock Park in downtown Saratoga Springs. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.