Posts Tagged ‘local pizza’

30 Mile Meal Pizza: Asparagus, Bacon, Feta and Gruyere

After my time at the Chesterhill Produce Auction, I got to thinking about the 30 Mile Meal Project here in Athens. These are people who, in a very short time, have promoted the use of sustainable local foods in a 30-mile radius of Athens. Thanks to them and Rural Action, I ended up with some great veggies and the resulting pizza below. If you wanna taste one just like it, come to Avalanche Pizza the week of July 17th and I’ll make you one. That’s Restaurant Week in the 30 Mile Meal Project.

My pizza, topped with local vegetables and ready for the oven.

Like I said previously, the auction is run by Rural Action and Tom Redfern and Bob Fedeski. They get the word out to guys like me who want the freshest vegetables around.

Brandon Jaeger, Co-Owner of Shagbark Seed and Milling Company (left) and Matt Rapposelli, Executive Chef at Ohio University (right)  are proponents of local foods here in Southeast Ohio. They’re great guys (despite those evil looks).

This day at the auction, I see some tough bidding competitors like Matt Rapposelli, the Executive Chef of Ohio University. I also see the chefs from The Wilds. Matt has retooled his prep kitchens to wash, peel, shave, chop, package and freeze all these local vegetables for students eating at the University.

All sorts of people showed up for the first produce auction of the year. There was no  fruit to be seen but lots asparagus, garlic, chard and radish.

Here are the ingredients  for this local pizza:

Shagbark Spelt pizza dough using a 50/50 blend

Easy Dough Recipe

3 medium leaves multi-colored Swiss chard

7 young Chesterhill radishes

2 spring garlic sprouts

4 to 5 slices of lean King family bacon

1/4 cup of Integration Acres goat feta

A big fat slice of Laurel Valley Gruyere

5 spears of fresh asparagus

Quick Marinade for the radishes and chard:

2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar,

Pinch of salt

Pinch of sugar

Slice the ham, then peel the skin of the asparagus.

Slice the asparagus lengthwise.

Slice the radishes thin or on a mandoline, toss them in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and sugar.

Cut the stem out of the chard, roll the leaf lengthwise and cut in a thin chiffonade.

Toss the chard with the chopped garlic and the radish.

Form the spelt crust round on parchment paper. Add the goat cheese and gruyere.


Add the ham, then the chard-garlic-radish mix. Then top with the asparagus. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the bottom is crisp. Serve immediately.

Nothing is better than a 30 mile pizza.

Here’s Tom and Bob explaining the Chesterhill produce auction

Local Spelt Pizza Crust

Whole grains of the spelt.

The spelt is here. I have been waiting for this day since the summer of 2009. Back then I drove to my Amish friends in Chesterhill, Ohio to get some late season asparagus and stawberries. As I popped over the roller-coaster road that was being slowly strangled by undergrowth, I came to Joe Hirshberger’s sprawling farm.

The hilly panorama around Chesterhill is like a Grant Wood painting. Undulating hills and steep ravines bottom out into small farm ponds used by horses, cows and sheep. Joe’s  farm is always worked the old fashioned way; with huge hairy-hoofed horses, carriages, buggies, peach trees, drying timber, sheep, chickens, dogs and steel-wheeled contraptions to capture the oats, wheat, spelt and corn. Barefoot kids in straw hats come and go past my window. Off to my right I see the fields where farmers grow, cut and stack all the corn and grains for the season. Closer in, near the road, some Amish women and kids kneel mosque-style (bad analogy.) They look like big black boulders slowly making thier way along the earthen potato rows.

Brandon in the foreground and Joe in the distance, guiding draft horses as they cut the spelt.

Then I see the Hirshberger house over the next hill, and there’s Joe, guiding four huge draft horses as they pull a cutting device through his field. He’s being followed by a dark haired guy stacking up the bundles that joe has cut.

“That job sucks.” I thought, and got out of my air-conditioned comfort to greet them.  Joe halted the horses and flies buzzed around in a moving cloud of chaos. I now regretted getting out of my car, as the air felt like a sauna. A horsefly bit my neck.

“Hi, my name is Brandon,” the dark haired guy said. His shirt was covered in sweat and field debris. “Who are you?’ he asked.

“I’m John, from Avalanche Pizza. Just stopped by to say hi to Joe.” I said, pointing at Joe. I wondered if Brandon was a migant worker. Then realized that I had seen him in the paper. He was that back-to0nature, seed-and-wheat guy who the paper said was bringing back the old-world style connection between local markets and local farmers.

Brandon gathering the spelt after Joe cuts it.

“How do you know Joe?” Brandon asked, just as Joe walked up and shook my hand. Joe’s white collared shirt was soaked but still pulled tight around his neck. His black felt jacket,  black pants, and beard were coated with beige wheat debris. Joe had no shoes on, and as he walked around (he never stands still), I cringed at the thought of those sharp 3-inch stalks stabbing my feet like punji sticks.

“Hello John,” Joe said, stroking his long beard.

“I buy some stuff from Joe every so often,” I explained to Brandon.”It’s a hot one, huh?” I said to both, and realized instantly how stupid a question that was.

“Are you interested in this spelt for your pizzas?” Brandon said.

“What’s spelt?” I asked. Both Brandon and Joe looked at each other quizzically then they both laughed. I thought they were gonna fall down in shared hysterics then realized I was standing in a field of spelt.

Well, that’s how this all started.

Spelt “on the vine” from Joe’s farm in Chesterhill, Ohio.

From then on, it’s been a great partnership. Joe Hirshberger still puts up with my ignorance about his religion, plants, vegetables, culture, and farm animals. He has taken a big chance on me and has planted part of his valuable acreage for my handshake promise to use his spelt and corn flour.

Brandon and Michelle Ajamian (His partner in Shagbark Seed and Milling) have come though in spades with their new mill and plans for the future. They have ground this hard-shelled grain fine enough for me to work into a crazy-good nutty pizza dough.

Moist local spelt on the right and the stone ground whole wheat from Con Agra that we had previously used.

This truly local flour has been incorporated into Avalanche Pizza’s menu-mix for a week now.  We’ve sold over 100 pounds of spelt pizza crust and breads in seven days!

Thank you Brandon, Michelle and Joe.