I have to start out with a confession: I don’t think, before tonight, that I have ever cooked with fresh oregano. I know, I know…but before you start judging me…ok, fine. Judge me. I’m a shameful excuse of a foodie, huh? Well, I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer, so I guess it’s not really a surprise that I should be such a late bloomer into the realm of fresh oregano. Better late than never, I suppose. I got a nice bundle of oregano with my CSA share this week and I decided, at the last minute, to throw some on this experimental pizza I made tonight. As I chopped the fresh leaves, the aroma was so delicious I wanted to take it and stuff it in my pillow so that I would dream of fresh fields of herbs. Seriously, I should put some in my pillow tonight.
Now, about this pizza. I mentioned in my last post that I had an experiment brewing for the Swiss chard. Let me just start out by saying that I was very nervous about using the chard because the one and only other time I have cooked Swiss chard, Hubby hated it. I don’t just mean hated it. I mean HATED IT. I agreed with him, the flavor was too overwhelming–it does have a very strong, earthy flavor about it, and I was so frightened by the experience that I never bought it again. That was over a decade ago. Now that I had a very beautiful (and also very large) bundle of rainbow Swiss chard in my hands, I had to come up with a way to use it that wouldn’t cause Hubby to run away and never come back. I don’t know why I thought pizza. Perhaps I had seen a recipe a while back that used Swiss chard. Maybe it was my subconscious telling me that if I put it on a pizza, Hubby was guaranteed to eat it. I checked some recipes online. One I saw called for goat cheese. That sounded good. Goat cheese is a very strongly flavored cheese, and it might help to balance the strong flavor of the chard, I reasoned. Then I let my brain go to work, listing off other possible ingredients (this was right before I was about to fall asleep, so I had to be very insistent with myself that I would remember all this the next morning–fortunately I did). I came up with, in addition to the chard and goat cheese, balsamic vinegar caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic scapes, walnuts, and the oregano was a last-minute inspiration, of course. While the pizza was baking, I tasted the onion, chard, and garlic scape mixture that I had sautéed before putting on the pizza. The strong chard flavor was still there. I got a knot in my stomach. “He’s not going to like this.” And I made the mistake, or maybe it worked to my advantage, of telling him so. The pizza smelled great, which always helps Hubby get into the mood of trying something new, and when he took his first bite, he said, “I like it.” He mentioned he could taste the earthy flavor of the chard, but that the goat cheese complimented it very well. Several times during dinner he repeated, “I like it,” even as he went back for his 3rd piece. I have to agree. I think it turned out very well, and I’m looking forward to having leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Swiss Chard Pizza
1 prepared pizza dough of your choice
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1-2 stalks Swiss chard, stalks and leaves finely chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (you can also use garlic cloves instead of scapes–go with the flow of the season!)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Heat the onions, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add pinch of sugar to aid in the caramelization process, if using. Reduce heat to low and cook onions until they begin to soften, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Swiss chard and garlic scapes. Cook just until the chard leaves begin to wilt, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Brush 1 teaspoon olive oil onto prepared pizza dough. For a little extra pizzazz, sprinkle some red pepper flakes on top of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the oregano and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Add the onion mixture, then the tomatoes and goat cheese. Sprinkle with walnuts and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.