Sausage, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta Pizza
Spring in Nova Scotia is confusing. There could be snow, and lots of it, all through April. Things are pretty rough-looking, bedraggled and brown after it finally melts away, and it feels a little hopeless right up until the beginning of May. Then, all in a matter of days, fields turn green, the maple trees bloom with their shocking red flowers and your neighbour announces they’ve got their garden in. It’s all kind of rude in its abruptness, but in the best possible way.
This is the time for dandelion greens, a lovely little harvest just waiting on your lawn. It’s best to snip leaves from clumps that haven’t yet flowered. A large kitchen bowlful will give you all you need for this recipe. Dandelion greens are a little bitter, in a way that lets you know that they are probably very good for you. The best way to tame this is with gentle cooking and generous amounts of olive oil, garlic and salt.
The greens are a great little side dish. But I like my spring tonic in the form of pizza so here goes:
Sausage, Dandelion Greens and Ricotta Pizza serves 4-6
For the Dough:
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour (Longspell Point Farms in the Annapolis Valley or Speerville)
2 teaspoons Yeast
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2/3 cup Water
Place the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Turn on the food processor and add the water all at once. Let the machine run about 30 seconds, then remove the dough and knead briefly until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a plate. Allow to rise for about two hours.
For the Dandelion Greens:
1/4 cup Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 pound Dandelion Greens, picked through and washed, water still clinging to its leaves
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Lay the garlic slices in and let sizzle a minute, then add the dandelion greens. Sprinkle with the salt, give it a good stir, then cover. Let cook, covered, for ten minutes or so, until the greens are tender. Uncover and continue a few minutes longer to cook off any excess water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For Pizza Assembly:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil plus extra for brushing
1/2 pound Ricotta (I love Holmestead’s, with its crumbly dry texture, but grocery store ricotta will definitely do)
1 pound Sausages, cooked and sliced thinly or crumbled (Meadowbrook’s Sweet Italian is ideal)
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
Heat the oven to 450°. Pour the olive oil onto the centre of a large cookie sheet. Rub a little of the olive oil onto your fingertips, then scoop the dough from the bowl onto the centre of the pan. Use your fingertips to gently press out the dough, taking breaks if necessary to let the dough relax. Brush the dough with olive oil.
Evenly distribute the greens on top of the dough. Crumble or spoon on the ricotta. Top with the sausage, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown. Let cool a minute before cutting into large squares.