Going into July 1st I was really, truly (I’ll even go so far as to say extremely) enthusiastic about the idea of moving all my and my Carrot’s worldly belongings from one dwelling to another. I was also over the moon about home ownership, but the dominant pang of excitement since late April was over the actual process of moving. “I can’t wait to downsize and get rid of things,” I said. “I can’t wait to re-sort and re-organize my home somewhere new,” I said. “I’ll reevaluate my closet until I have a capsule wardrobe,” I said. “Moving will be quick and painless,” I said.
What a total crock of shit. Moving, regardless of how rose-colored my glasses can be, is NOT a fun experience. Nope, not fun at all. Owning a new home and discovering new spaces and places within it is very enjoyable. Living in a new town is also quite lovely. We’re having a great time getting to know our new home and our new town. We’re loving the park that’s practically in our backyard and the ice cream truck that’s a short dog walk away. But the actually nitty gritty process of moving: now that totally sucks. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking with all the optimism.
Along with all the work (and packing and unpacking and scrubbing and painting and sorting) came emotions. Strong emotions. Stress + exhaustion from moving + very long to do lists (because we are still running a business after all) = one very emotional Leek. Or, if I’m being totally honest with you all, it equates one overemotional and totally unreasonable mess of a person.
Moving from the home where we began our farm, raised all three of our pets, celebrated our engagement and planned our wedding was really hard on me. Much harder than I ever imagined. I was so excited about the prospect of moving and owning my first home, that I didn’t stop and look around at what I was giving up. I knew we made the right decision by moving to a beautiful, perfectly remodeled home near the farm, but that straight forward logic didn’t quell my unreasonable spirit because I didn’t give myself any opportunity for closure. We were too busy for closure. And then with no closure on our home of nearly four years, it all came crashing down around me over the past month. I would never have imagined that I could love my new home so dearly while still shedding tears over the old one but there I was faced with this bittersweet reality.
Fast forward three weeks from our closing date, the emotions are becoming less tumultuous and we’re beginning to feel (dare I say?) settled. The boxes are stacked high and we have to navigate among them to get from room to room, but it doesn’t seem to matter. We roam our new house with ease. And finally, after seven years with my love, through four homes with miserable kitchens, I have my perfect place to cook.
We return from long days in the field and we cook– more than we ever have before. I work through piles of cucumbers, heaps of zucchini, bunches of beets, onions, beans, fennel, squash, and herbs. I experiment. I invent. I play. I’ve made friends with our new kitchen and there’s no question that it’s my new happy space (mess of unpacked boxes and all).
This recipe is my favorite invention in the new kitchen thus far. The crust takes a little effort (whatever you do, don’t skimp on the cheesecloth) but it is so worth it. Crisp and cheesy, zucchini yields a lovely textured crust. It’s the perfect solution to all the extra zucchinis that got away from you in the garden. You know, those giant 2 pound beasts that usually only make it into zucchini bread. I topped the golden brown crust with veggies from our CSA box but you could really top it with anything you normally like on pizza. Either way, I suggest making a double batch because this pizza will be gone in the blink of an eye!
SUMMER SQUASH, FENNEL & PESTO PIZZA WITH ZUCCHINI CRUST
As usual, this recipe is very versatile. You could just make the zucchini pizza crust and top it with whatever you like (pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella for example) or you can go totally vegetarian as I did and top it with CSA ingredients. I used pesto for the sauce because we always have pesto in our fridge in the summertime, but feel free to use any pizza sauce that you have on hand!
Takes 1 hour, 15 minutes
4 cups shredded zucchini (shredded with a cheese grater or food processor)
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Gouda cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 summer squash, halved and sliced
1/3 cup prepared pesto
- Preheat oven to 525 degrees. Place baking stone, pizza pan or baking sheet you plan to bake pizza on in oven while it preheats. (Allow the pan to get really hot will help keep the pizza crust from sticking).
- Combine shredded zucchini and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt in medium bowl and let sit for 15 minutes. Wrap shredded zucchini in cheese cloth and squeeze until no water remains. This should take about 5 minutes as there is a lot of water in large zucchini. It’s important to get the majority of the water out to ensure a crispy (not soggy) crust! Combine the shredded zucchini, flour, 1/2 cup Gouda, garlic powder, oregano, basil and egg in a clean medium bowl. Stir ingredients together until mostly incorporated and then use your hands to make mixture smooth and even.
- Turn mixture out onto a piece of parchment paper. Press with your hands into a 10-inch circle about a 1/2-inch thick (or another shape if you don’t have a round baking pan). Remove baking stone, pizza pan or baking sheet from the oven and slide parchment (and crust) onto it. Place crust in oven and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare topping. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes until well-softened. Add remaining olive oil, bell pepper, summer squash, remaining Kosher salt and more freshly ground black pepper. Add a tablespoon water to the pan if things are sticking. Cook for additional 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
- Once pizza crust has been allowed to cool, flip it so that golden brown side is down on the baking pan. Remove from parchment (use a spatula if it doesn’t come off easily). Top with pesto, followed by cooked veggies and remaining Gouda. Bake 10-15 minutes until pizza is cooked through and cheese is golden.