Pizza with Rainbow Chard and Caramelized Onions and Pears Recipe


Today’s dinner was the result of a simple question:

What the fuck are we going to do with that bunch of rainbow chard in the refrigerator?!

Approximately once a month, we’ve been ordering a bin of produce from Mile High Organics. It’s cool because you get a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables in each bin (delivered!); I guess it’s kind of like a CSA, which, as far as I can tell, is an awesome thing if you’re a millionaire (every time I’ve looked into those they’ve been prohibitively expensive). We do some tweaking to our bins (no mushrooms now or ever) but, for the most part, get whatever is in there. We tend to get in food ruts (Ben, for example, would be content to eat nothing but pizza and burritos from now until the end of time), so I love the challenge of random, mysterious produce. Our last shipment helped me overcome my fear of Brussel sprouts (they are de-freaking-licious roasted and it’s super easy). This shipment included beets, arugula, a giant leek, and a bunch of rainbow chard. (Can you escape from prison with only these supplies? Just kidding. I know this isn’t exactly cutting-edge cuisine here, but it’s not stuff we usually buy).

Rainbow chard? What the hell do you do with that? My first thought was, as you might have guessed, pizza. I consulted my good friend Google and found this recipe for Susan’s Swiss Chard and Artichoke “White” Pizza. It sounds pretty good, but Ben isn’t a huge fan of artichokes and I’m a little bored with them. So I figured I’d use that recipe as a starting point and do something different. But what?

What goes with chard? The internet seems to think cheese and onions. Of course we’ll have cheese, because this is pizza. Onions are cool. But hey, what if I caramelize them? That sounds fun. And then, for something completely random just because it sounds good and we have them, pears (I didn’t realize until halfway through making this that you can caramelize pears).

So, here’s what I did with a bunch of rainbow chard.

Crust

The crust recipe is from “Thin Crust Pizza with Fontina and Mozzarella” from The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook by Pasquale Bruno, Jr., with a couple tweaks.

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Add yeast to warm water and stir well. In a large mixing bowl, combine white flour, wheat flour, and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until the dough sort of forms a ball. Take dough out of the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for five minutes. Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a towel (or put in a sealed zipper plastic bag), and put in a warm place for an hour and a half. Punch down the dough, knead lightly for a couple minutes, roll out to fit your pizza pan, and place on pan. (This recipe says it makes a 12 inch pizza, but I stretched it to fit in our pan, which is 16 inches; I’d recommend using a 14 or 16 inch pan.) Poke holes in the crust with a fork (I think I’ve seen Ben do this and it made me feel like I knew what I was doing). Cover with a towel and let it sit for another half hour.

(FYI: The pizza pan we use has holes in it. I don’t know what kind ours is, but it looks like this.)

Onion

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
  • a sprinkle of salt

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large frying pan and add olive oil. Add the onion and stir to coat with butter/oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle salt over onion and mix well. Allow onion to cook over medium to medium-low heat until caramelized. This always seems like it takes forever. I let mine cook for at least 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and then stirring a little more often at the end when the onions start to get brown and like to stick to the pan.

Pears

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 heaping, unpacked tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 pears (I’ve used red Bartlett and D’Anjou pears), cored and diced (no need to peel, pieces can be on the big side)

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium frying pan (or if you’re lazy and inefficient like me, use the same pan you used for the onions). When the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar. Add the pears and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are soft and yummy. I let mine cook for 15-ish minutes.

Chard

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch (approximately 8 cups, not packed; this seems like a lot but it shrinks when cooked) chard, leaves only, chopped. (You’re supposed to use the stalks, too (keeping them separate from the leaves because they take longer to cook). However, I tried the stalks and didn’t like them — too celery-like — and tossed them.)
  • salt to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan whose cover you can find. Add the chard and stir for a couple minutes to distribute the oil. Cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt to taste.

The Pie

  • 1 tablespoon (or less) olive oil
  • a little grated Parmesan
  • grated mozzarella

Drizzle the olive oil over the crust and brush to evenly distribute. Evenly distribute the chard, onions, and pears over the crust. Sprinkle a little grated Parmesan over everything (you can see how much I used from the picture, below). Cover the whole thing with grated mozzarella (as much as you like — I used just enough to cover everything without getting carried away). Bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes (I did 17).

It was freaking delicious. Enjoy, and stay tuned for the next installment of “WTF are we supposed to do with this produce?”

the finished product