First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a garden-side cooking class and picnic for the schoolchildren who joined her for the summer harvest of the Kitchen Garden on Tuesday. Led by White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, Mrs. Obama and the kids made grilled flatbread pizzas, laden with newly plucked bounty, including fennel, Swiss chard, garlic, and broccoli. The recipe is below. (Above, Mrs. Obama and the kids enjoy the pizza)
"We’re going to actually get to eat what we harvest today," the First Lady told the kids as she welcomed them.
"This is the best pizza ever!" more than one child was heard to exclaim during the picnic.
Mrs. Obama's special guests were students from two New Jersey schools devastated by Hurricane Sandy. They also enjoyed a Garden Salad made with just-picked veggies; CLICK HERE for the recipe.
An outdoor kitchen was set up beside the 1,500-square foot garden, complete with a black grill and prep tables. Mrs. Obama, the kids, and the chefs sliced and diced vegetables and composed the flatbread pizzas and salad, rapidly making their picnic. (Above, Mrs. Obama and the kids put sautéed Swiss chard on the pizzas)
Chef Comerford's recipe makes three entire pizzas, and uses whole wheat and semolina flours for the flatbread dough, which requires at least an hour to rise. Canned tomatoes and tomato paste are used for the sauce, which requires a blender. The vegetables are simply sautéed, and topped with Parmesan cheese after being placed on the grilled flatbread.
Re-imagining pizza as a healthy food is a signature for Mrs. Obama since she launched the Let's Move! campaign in 2010; check out Chef Comerford's recipe for Garden Vegetable Pizza and her recipe for Grilled Garden Pizza. Check the sidebar for all White House recipes, or CLICK HERE for links.
White House Grilled Garden Flatbread Pizza
*The recipe is in three stages, and number of servings depends on portion size. Makes three pizzas.
For The Grilled Flatbread
*1 Cup Lukewarm Water
*1 Packet Active Yeast
*1 Tsp Sugar
*1 Tsp Sea Salt
*2 Cups Whole Wheat White Flour
*1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
*1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
*2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*1 Cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded, reserved until grilling stage
1. In a small mixing bowl, mix the yeast and sugar into the water and let bloom for a few minutes.
2. Sift the flours and salt into a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mix and olive oil in the well. Using a fork or your fingers, gradually bring in the flour around the side to the center well. Once it starts to combine, work the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth and springy.
3. Set dough aside in an oiled bowl, and cover either with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Leave in a warmer area of your kitchen and let the dough rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.
4. Punch the dough in the bowl to push some air out. Remove the dough and place it on a flour-dusted work surface. Divide the dough into three balls. Roll each into about a ¼ inch thick dough and place each on a tray that has been lined with flour-dusted parchment paper.
For The Tomato Sauce
*2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*8 Cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
*1 Small Onion, minced
*1 Thyme Sprig
*1 Bay Leaf
*1 28 Oz Can Peeled Whole Tomatoes
*2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
*Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a medium sauce pot, add the olive oil. Sweat the garlic, onion and thyme until fragrant and translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes and the paste. Add the bay leaf. Simmer for about half an hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove bay leaf and blend in a blender. Set aside.
For The Vegetables
*1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*1 Shallot, minced
*1 Medium-size Fennel, washed, bottom bulb cut into 1/4 inch slices
*1/2 Cup Broccoli, cut into small florettes
*1/2 Lb Swiss Chard leaves, cut into bite-size pieces
*Salt and Pepper to taste
1. In a preheated large sauté pan, drizzle olive oil and sweat the minced shallots until translucent.
2. Add the fennel, broccoli and Swiss chard. Sauté for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking The Pizza
1. Set the grill to medium heat.
2. Grill the pizza dough on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the dough is fully cooked.
3. Remove flatbread from grill and top with the tomato sauce and sautéed vegetables.
4. Top with the shredded Parmesan cheese, distributed evenly among the pizzas.
5. Set pizza back on the grill to warm up a bit. Serve immediately.
CLICK HERE for links to all Kitchen Garden posts, and check out the Let's Move! gardening guide. Above, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses offers a child some pizza.
*Photos by Brendan Hoffman/Prime for Obama Foodorama; pizza photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House