Our first three-quarter-bushel Community Supported Agriculture shares from local organic veggie producer Prairie Drifter Farm have been loaded with spring goodness: tender onions, lettuces, radishes, pea shoots, basil, cilantro and arugula.
Many, if not all, of these early season goodies can also be found at farmers markets, which generally go into full swing during June.
The night my husband picked our first CSA box up he made himself a midnight salad snack. I heard sounds of joy coming from the kitchen at about 10:30 p.m., and his gleeful noshing inspired me to anticipate my own larger-than-life lunch salad the next day.
Arugula is one fond element in my spring salads. This green is mostly a spring and fall addition to the boxes, as it thrives in the cooler months of the growing season. Though it’s sometimes included in salad mixes found at mainstream grocery stores, it’s generally a sparse or limited addition on account of its peppery spunkiness.
Mature arugula raw on its own is truly for those with spice-loving palates. When leaves are still small or mature leaves are cooked, however, arugula becomes much more accessible and mellows in flavor.
One of our family dinners this past week featured arugula as a main player. We paired a simple lettuce salad alongside a green and white thin-crust pizza. I used homemade dough and pesto, but relied on a cupful of store-bought spaghetti sauce. Your favorite sauce brand would likely suffice, too, as would a store-bought crust.
Claudia Broman lives and writes in Litchfield.
Green & White Pizza
Serves 6 (makes 2 thin-crust pizzas)
Green Pizza Sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cups fresh arugula leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup walnuts (you could also use pine nuts or omit altogether)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 cup, depending on taste, spaghetti sauce
Dough for two pizza crusts – either from store or made using your favorite recipe
Green pizza sauce (as above)
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
5 cups fresh arugula leaves
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
other toppings as desired
Preheat oven to 425. Prepare pizza dough for two thin-crust pizzas, using your favorite recipe, or use store-bought crust. Put a dime-sized amount of olive oil in your hands and grease each pizza pan using the oil. Fit your dough in the pans as desired. Brush a tablespoon of olive oil onto each crust. Place each pan of crust in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Place all ingredients for the green pizza sauce, except spaghetti sauce, in a food processor. First pulse, then blend vigorously. Once fully mixed, place half of the sauce onto each pizza crust. Then, add anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce onto each crust, as well. Using the back of a spoon mix the two sauces together and spread as desired on each pre-baked crust. You can brush a little more olive oil onto the crusts before adding the sauce if the crusts look dry, but it’s not necessary.
Next, prepare the arugula and sausage as pizza toppings. Add 1/4 inch of water to a saucepan, then the arugula for the pizza, and cover. Put burner on high and immediately turn it off as soon as the pan starts to steam. Remove from heat if necessary to prevent the arugula from sticking to the pan. Drain and place arugula in a small bowl. In a small frying pan, brown the Italian sausage over medium heat. Drain the meat and place in a bowl, as well.
Finally, the pizzas can be prepped for final baking by sprinkling the artichoke hearts, red onion, steamed arugula, mushrooms, browned sausage, and cheeses onto the pre-baked crusts. Make sure the vegetables are spaced well to ensure more even baking. Place pizzas in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese begins to bubble and turn slightly brown. Once removed, let the pizzas sit a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!
Quick Salad Dressing
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic or other flavored vinegar
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon herbes de provence, or a mix of basil and oregano
Place all of the above ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar. Screw on the lid and shake until blended. Use as desired to dress your salads.