One year, by accident, I planted our spinach just a little too late at the end of summer to get a fall yield. However, this accident lead to a wonderful surprise in the spring. By the first week in May we were able to harvest 6 pounds of the most succulent spinach. The plants were established enough in the fall to withstand a Michigan winter and then thrive in the spring after it warmed up a bit. Because of this discovery we now plant spinach late every fall and in May we use the spinach to make several spinach pizzas, one of which we eat that night, fresh out of the oven, and the others which we freeze for future meals.
My husband and I have really come to the conclusion that a little extra time to double or triple a recipe and freeze the extras has taken the quality of our meals, on busy nights when we can’t cook to another level. We make foods that are fresh and in season and, even after freezing them, that freshness still comes through. I much prefer a frozen spinach pizza made from organic home-grown spinach than to make one from “fresh” spinach shipped in from Peru.
Besides the freshness, the secret to the flavor of this pizza is the mint. It’s not an “out front” taste but you’d miss it if it wasn’t there. It is also up and abundant by the middle of May, and if you’re lucky, so is the oregano and parsley. You can use whatever pizza crust recipe you like, or use a pre-made pizza crust to speed things up. I particularly like a whole wheat crust since it gives it a nice texture and compliments the flavor of the spinach. This recipe makes two large pizzas.
2 packages of yeast
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 – 6 cups flour (whole wheat, white or, a blend. I prefer all whole wheat.)
½ c. wheat germ (optional, makes it more nutritious)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion
4-5 cups diced mushrooms (we use portabellos but button mushrooms or a combination are okay, too.)
1 handful fresh mint or 2-3 tablespoons dried mint
1 small handful fresh oregano or 2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 small handful fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons dried parsley
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds fresh spinach or 3 small packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry.
4-5 sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and diced (optional)
1 package feta cheese
1 pound (or so) shredded mozzarella cheese
Dissolve the yeast in the warm (not hot!) water. When foamy, stir in salt and honey then beat into the flour (and wheat germ if you are using it.) Knead 15-20 minutes, preferably with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. After it has risen, punch down, knead a few times, then divide in two. Let sit 5 minutes then roll out into crusts. (Note: dough can rise for several hours as long as you punch it down periodically. This gives it a yeastier, better flavor.)
Place the doughs on greased pizza pans sprinkled with corn meal or, preferably, transfer directly to a preheated cooking stone in the oven. Pre-bake at 375°F for about 5 minutes.
If you are using fresh spinach, chop it coarsely and then wilt it in a pan with a little bit of water, and set aside. After it has cooled press out any extra liquid. Saute onion in olive oil until soft and clear. Add mushrooms and saute until the water goes away, about 10-15 minutes. Add mint, oregano, spinach, garlic, sundried tomatoes and saute for another 5-10 minutes. Place on pre-baked crusts, distributing equally. Crumble feta cheese on top then cover with mozzarella. Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.