Caramelized Onion, Kale, Squash & Bacon Pizza

Contrary to how much cured pork is on this blog, our meals are often light on meaty things. Bacon and its relatives do happen to show up in special dishes though, and this pizza, it is super special. The Recipe Redux folks asked us to share a healthy pizza recipe that we can all look forward to after a long week…or a long day. This gluten and dairy-free pizza is definitely worth coming home to.

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Two years ago, I eliminated gluten. It was not as rough of transition as I had anticipated, except for pizza. Pizza has always been among my top three favorite foods, and W can eat it at least twice per week, indefinitely. We had an amazing pizza crust recipe, one that we had trialed and tailored so many times that it was loved more than any other pizza crust at even our favorite restaurants. It just so happens to contain a lot of wheat flour. When I received those test results back in January of 2012, and had cleaned out the cupboards and brought in new gluten-free flours, I quickly set to trying an array of pizza crust recipes. None of them were even remotely appetizing. They were difficult to roll, sticky, crunchy, and tasted like crackers. There was none of that bready texture that we wanted. Worse, we couldn’t find a better crust at any restaurant, even ones claiming to have an amazing gluten-free option!

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Then came months of still not feeling well, and the frustrating news that dairy was  a culprit too. Feeling defeated, I gave up on pizza for a while.

No longer. A few more months of experimentation paid off. We ate a lot of bad pizza in the process, but finally created the crust. And cheese? We have come to realize that when good toppings are loaded on, the cheese isn’t missed.

Really.

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Now let’s talk about these toppings. This pizza involves acorn squash, lacinato kale, caramelized onions, honey, and a touch of bacon. It’s one of my favorite combinations. The caramelized onion forms an exquisite base in lieu of sauce, and with the slightly salty kale, squash and bacon, and with that drizzle of honey, the combination of sweet and salty creates a pizza that leaves us no longer missing the gluten and cheese.

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Caramelized Onion, Kale, Squash & Bacon Pizza, (crust adapted from Kumquat)
A note about the crust: The ingredients below make enough for two 10-12″ crusts. Each pizza usually serves two to three. You can refrigerate the dough for the second crust up to two days. Due to the differences in the flours, I like to weigh them with a kitchen scale to get an accurate ratio of 70 percent whole grains and 30 percent starches. I’ve then put those weights into cups so it will be easier to measure without a scale, but if in doubt, I’d use a “short measurement,” rather than an overflowing cup.
  
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 a bunch of lacinato kale, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
1/2 of an acorn squash, deseeded and chopped
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and diced
1-2 Tbs. honey
 
1 1/2 Tbs. golden flax seed, ground
3 Tbs. hot water
40 grams (a short 1/2 cup) garbanzo & fava bean flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. tapioca starch
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
40 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
~2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cup warm water, divided
Cornmeal
 
For the caramelized onion:
In a large saute pan, pour in olive oil and heat to medium high. Add onions and allow to cook until they are becoming soft. Add a good pinch of salt and turn down to medium, covered. Stir occasionally and turn down again, if they are cooking too high. They will take 30-45 minutes to become golden and soft, and caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
 
For the kale:
In the same pan as the onion was cooked in, add a small drizzle of olive oil and pour in the chopped kale. Add a good pinch of salt and cook just until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
 
For the squash: 
In the same pan as the onion and kale, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and squash. Cook over medium heat, just until the squash begins to soften slightly. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
 
For the pizza dough:
1.Combine flax seeds and 3 tablespoons very hot water in a small bowl until a slurry is formed; set aside.
2. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Combine yeast, 1 Tbs. olive oil, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Allow to rest for 3 minutes for yeast to activate. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture; mix for 1 minute. Add flax seed slurry to the dough and a portion of the remaining water; mix until the dough comes together in a ball. If it is too dry, add enough water to for a tender, pliable dough. Set aside to rest for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Separate the dough into two equal portions. Sprinkle your pizza stone or baking sheet with a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Roll one of the dough portions out to desired thickness directly on a pizza stone or baking sheet. 
4. Sprinkle the dough evenly with caramelized onion, followed by squash, then kale, bacon, and finish with a good drizzle of honey. Fold the crust edges in when done. Bake for about 16 minutes.

Bacon-Balsamic Radicchio Risotto

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This post might be more appropriately titled, “Falling in Love over Risotto”, since in a way, I actually did.  Having not eaten risotto until grad school, I decided I was going to make it for W for Valentine’s day.  He ended up doing most of the work.  It was the best risotto we’ve had, likely in part because it took hours to make the broth, and because it was the first time we worked together to prepare an elaborate meal and bring it to the table.

Since then, we’ve shared countless risotto versions, from a truly romantic night out abroad to a frugal meal needing few ingredients, at home.  I’ve loved them all.  This version, I’ve been meaning to make for ages, as it showcases my new favorite winter green, radicchio.  Though radicchio is not actually green, it does fall under that category, as a member of the chicory family.  Radicchio is fairly bitter, and pairs very nicely with sweet balsamic vinegar and nearly-caramelized onions.  Add bacon to that trio and this risotto truly fits the winter-comfort food category.

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If you’ve been in need of comfort lately, as I have, consider spending some quality time making risotto this week.  For me, whiling away an hour or so in the kitchen brings real solace from the rest of the world’s wearies.  Enjoy.

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Bacon-Balsamic Radicchio Risotto, adapted from Dishing Up Oregon
3 strips thick-cut bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces 
1 head radicchio, diced
2 large shallots, diced
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 small handful raisins
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbs. reserved bacon fat
1/4 cup finely diced fennel bulb
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup Arborio rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp.  Take out of pan and drain off extra bacon fat.  Reserve for cooking risotto.  Add the bacon back to the skillet along with the radicchio and shallots and cook until the radicchio wilts, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, the brown sugar, and the raisins.  Continue cooking, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio is tender and slightly jammy, about 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile prepare broth by warming it over a medium saucepan.
  • Heat another large skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat.  Add onions and fennel bulb.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the grains of rice are opaque, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup vinegar to the fennel mixture and cook a couple minutes until vinegar is absorbed.  Ladle 1 cup of the broth into the mixture and simmer, over medium-low heat, until all the broth is absorbed.  Continue to add the broth 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is creamy and tender, and all the additional broth is used up, about 25 minutes.  Stir in the radicchio mixture to the rice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve right away.
 
 

Smoked Gouda Bacon & Turnip Frittata

It was one of  those days when I arrived home, had nothing planned for dinner, opened the fridge and proceeded to pull out everything edible.  It resulted in turnip bacon frittata.   A winter delight.

This is a perfect “It’s cold outside and I’m tired” dish that satisfies in all the right ways.  Which includes the quick turnaround from “let’s clean this fridge out” to the “now I can relax in front of the fireplace”.  Unfortunately I do not as yet have a fireplace .   The turnip bacon frittata, however, can do all of the warming and comforting that for now, a fireplace cannot!

Smoked Gouda Bacon & Turnip Frittata, serves 2
1 large turnip, thinly sliced
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
3 or 4 slices of thick, good quality bacon
4 eggs, scambled
1/2 cup peas
1/4 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese, or sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
  • Cut bacon into small pieces and cook in large skillet until crispy brown.  Remove from pan and drain.
  • Sauté  turnip and onion in a small bit of bacon drippings until golden brown and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
  • Add eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper, to pan and sprinkle bacon pieces evenly over the top.  Cook until nearly set and bottom is cooked, 8-10 minutes.
  • Add peas and shredded cheese and continue to cook 1-2 more minutes.  Under oven broiler, crisp top of frittata until eggs are set all the way through.
  • Remove from oven, cut into pieces and serve straight away!