We said goodbye to our CSA members last Wednesday. After 20 weeks together, it’s always bittersweet when we bring things to a close. Filled with unknowns and excitement, our relationship with our CSA members begins anew each spring. Mutual admiration grows throughout the season as we get to know one another better. By the end, a deep love and respect has formed. It’s so hard to say good bye to these friends new and old (even if it’s only until next June). Seven months is a long time to wait and our members bring such vibrancy to our lives. It’s hard to remember how to live without them again.
Who do we share our vegetables with? Who do I tell about the new amazing recipe I found that brings winter squash and sage together into a breakfast treat?! Or this one that well utilizes everyone’s most feared vegetable: fennel?! If there are no more weekly newsletters for our members, where do we announce that after much discussion with the parents, we think we have worked out a long-term arrangement for our land use on their farm? Where do we share photos of garlic and the upcoming planting? It’s an odd feeling. With no employee, no worker shares and no CSA members, the farm suddenly becomes just the two of us again.
Luckily so many of our members have turned into friends. There will be Friday pizza nights, trips to the Good Food cart for lunch, happy hours, bonfires and email exchanges sprinkled throughout our calm restorative winter. Our member friends will fill us with new ideas and when it’s time to say hello again in the springtime, it will be like no time had passed. But it doesn’t feel that way now. With no CSA veggies to harvest this week, no recipes to curate for my members and no newsletter to write, it’s like a big part of my life is missing.
I’ve been finding things to fill my time. Well, largely two things: both by the name of Lorelai (Or Rory for short). Seriously, how have I gone 27.9 years of my life without these women?! I had no idea what I was missing. There has also been morning reading, thoughtful house organization projects, many trips to the Arboretum, a renewed focus at work and pizza. Lots and lots of vegetable pizzas.
The pizza problem began with recipe prep for a celebratory, end-of-season, thank you dinner on the farm. I had a vision. I wanted to host a lingering meal centered around pizza. Every vegetable we grew at the moment would find it’s way on to a pie. I wanted at least six different topping combinations and each one had to be utterly unique and different from the last. I’d make several different crusts and several different sauces yielding several different pizzas and just keep serving them to my guests until they couldn’t fit in one more bite.
This, of course, required much recipe testing which ultimately led to much pizza eating. There were two weeks straight that we dined on pizza alone for dinner. I thought this immersion technique would bring my love of pizzas to a temporary halt, but it did quite the opposite. My love of pizza has since only grown exponentially. It’s official. It’s impossible to tire of pizza.
Between topping combinations like Brussels Sprouts & Bacon with Carrot Top Pesto or Braised Beef Short Rib with Savoy Cabbage, Leek and Smoked Gouda Cream Sauce, it’s hard to choose a favorite. But the pizza I loved most and continue to find myself craving was, of course, inspired by a conversation with a CSA member.
Skip and Lindsey have a deep love of pork. Skip is a cure your own bacon, smoke your own ribs, BBQ on everything kind of guy. When we had a conversation about a pizza they made with BBQ pulled pork and our roasted winter squash, I knew I had to give it a whirl. I spruced mine up with so many peppers (because we continue to have SO MANY peppers) for a little heat and a little more sweetness, I added raw red onion because nothing makes me happier on a sweet and savory pizza than red onion, and I immediately ran to the store for Smoked Cheddar to further enhance the smoky flavor of this toppings-heavy pizza. The end result is a flavor bomb. A colorful, complex monster of a pizza that I would gladly eat (and continue to eat) every day of the week. I seriously encourage you to plan ahead and just make a double batch.
P.S. Do you love making pizza from scratch like I do? Check out my favorite local flours from Meadowlark Organics! Enter LEEKLARK20 at checkout for 20% off your order!
BBQ BUTTERNUT SQUASH & PULLED PORK PIZZA
Takes 1 hour (not including time to make pulled pork), add an additional hour if you plan to make the dough from scratch
Makes 14-inch pizza that serves 4-6
1 batch pizza dough (your favorite or use my recipe below!)
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup favorite BBQ sauce (I always use Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
1 cup pulled pork (here’s one of my favorite super easy slow-cooker pulled pork recipes!)
1 red bell pepper (or red Italian fryer), seeded and diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cups smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
For the pizza dough:
1-1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons active yeast
2 tablespoons honey
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- If you are making the dough from scratch, begin here. If not, skip to step 2. Combine warm water (but not hot!) with yeast and honey in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk to combine and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in water with yeast. Stir to combine but do not work the dough at all, just stir until all the ingredients are incorporated together. Let dough rest for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a well-floured counter and knead for 3-5 minutes until smooth and uniform dough forms. Grease or oil a large clean bowl. Add dough, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest in a warm place for an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine butternut squash, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl to evenly coat. Add to a large baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Once finished remove from oven and add back to small bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 525 degrees.
- Once dough is risen. Roll it out on a well-floured counter until it’s about the size of the baking sheet you used for roasting the squash. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Top dough with BBQ sauce leaving an inch border on all the edges. Add pork followed by butternut squash, peppers, onions and smoked cheddar.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.