Putting Out Fires + RECIPE: Shaved Asparagus Pizza with Arugula Pesto

This past week has really been trying to eat us alive.

On Thursday, the clutch cable snapped on our Grillo rototiller so even though we already had decided to replace it, we no longer could use it to mow our fields, which we’d planned to do through the next couple months.

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On Friday, we realized we should have hooked our irrigation up a couple days earlier. Some of our most recently planted crops were severely drooping.

Saturday was good. We harvested 100 heads of lettuce and transplanted tomatoes in ninety degree heat before taking the first evening away from the farm in what felt like months (though it had probably only been a couple weeks). My face was flushed after a three hour sprint to get 600 plants in the ground but making it to Burgers & Brews was well worth it.

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On Sunday, the heat continued and we spent the day that was supposed to be spent together doing non-farm things and giving our relationship a little attention setting up irrigation and moving sprinklers around instead. On Sunday, the electrical in our truck also started failing. To be determined if this is a disaster or not.

On Monday, the muffler literally fell off our CSA delivery vehicle and a hose burst in the field. All that on top of the fact that we’re still struggling to catch up from the two weeks of rain that kept us out of our fields for days and days.

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Luckily, I’m at my most energetic, powered by the sun and the start of another CSA season. And thank goodness because my Carrot has worked for the last 64 days straight and he just doesn’t have the energy to solve one problem only to watch 6 more pop up. We’re putting out fires left and right and it’s hard, but I know it’s just the June slump. It’s like this every year for one reason or another. We get buried and we feel like we’ll never find our way out.

And then we experience a day like today. A 75-degree day with big fluffy clouds and a quiet cool breeze. The birds chirped. Everything we harvested was beautiful and bigger than expected. Crate after crate of vegetables came up to be washed and not a thing went wrong. Today was our first harvest day for our CSA. And it was just perfect.

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Ou CSA members are getting lots of spring treats this week, all of my spring favorites in fact: arugula, bok choy, spinach, green garlic, asparagus. It’s a fun box with all different shades of green and it’s screaming to be made into a fresh salad. So I suggested our members do that, but when they’re done with the salad making, it’s really just time to have some pizza.

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I started shaving asparagus and tossing it on pizza since Smitten Kitchen told me this was possible way back in 2010. Since that fateful day I’ve been shaving asparagus every spring and yes, definitely throwing it on pizza (but also just tossing it with olive oil, salt and pepper and demolishing a whole bowl). Sometimes I toss on some morels, some times some radishes, really just whatever is in my fridge and feels springy.

When I made this pizza last year with leftover arugula pesto and some green garlic, it stuck. I added spinach today and it only enhanced what was already incredible. I hope you enjoy my welcome to June. Shit’s about to get real delicious.

Love,
Your Leek

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SHAVED ASPARAGUS PIZZA WITH ARUGULA PESTO
I love the pizza dough recipe found below (with full credit given to Pioneer Woman). It works best if made 24-72 hours in advance which means you can prep it on a day you have time (usually Sunday for us) and then whip up a quick pizza with it on a weeknight. If you really want to plan ahead you could make the pesto in advance too and stock it in your fridge for any myriad of delicious things.

Takes 45 minutes if pizza dough is store-bought or made in advance
Serves 2-4

1 batch Simple Pizza Dough (for best results make at least 24 hours in advance)
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces mozzarella, cut into squares
1 cup spinach, torn
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
Arugula Pesto:
2 cups packed arugula leaves
2-3 green garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Remove pre-made pizza dough from fridge (instructions on how to make your own pizza dough below!). Use store-bought if you aren’t in a pizza dough making mood.
2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
3. Prepare arugula pesto. Combine arugula, green garlic, Parmesan, almonds, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and uniform. Slowly pour in olive oil and lemon juice while the food processor runs until mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust salt, pepper or lemon as desired.
4. Roll out pizza dough on a floured counter into a 14×16-inch rectangle. Fold dough in half and then in half again to easily transfer to a baking sheet.
5. Place pizza pan in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
6. While the pizza bakes, prepare the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long thin pieces. I hold the asparagus crown when I do this, shaving towards the thick end. Once I can’t shave any more. I flip it over and go from the other side. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
7. Remove pizza crust from oven. Using a spatula, spread the pesto onto the pizza (leaving a one-inch border around the edges). Sprinkle mozzarella cubes over pizza followed by spinach and then the shaved asparagus. Sprinkle with Parmesan and red pepper flakes (if using). Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and cheese is just beginning to brown. Serve warm!

Simple Make-Ahead Pizza Dough:
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 heaping teaspoon rapid-rise yeast
Pinch sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in a glass measuring cup. Whisk to combine and let sit for five minutes.
2. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl, preferably that can go in a stand mixer. Add oil and stir until well-incorporated.
3. Add yeast mixture and stir until dough comes together, scraping down the bowl once or twice if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge until ready to use.

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