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Here in the desert today, in the middle of the worst drought in– forever?– we’re getting rain. RAIN! Can you believe it? I have the window cracked open and all I can hear is how happy the birds are about this. Tweeting it up like crazy. You know they say April showers bring May flowers, and since I just planted some lavender bushes and marigold seeds last weekend, I sure do hope that’s true. Hooray for spring!
Besides flowers, one of my favorite things about spring is the veggies. Asparagus and artichokes and peas and spinach. All the green things. Spring veggies seem so fleeting. Summer tomatoes seem to last forever, and all the fall things, like pumpkin, well they seem to last all year. But spring veggies seem to come and go, so we have to take advantage of them while we can.
As I was perusing the freezer aisles of Walmart last week, a huge selection of Alexia Fries and Onion Rings caught my eye. I’ve had Alexia fries once or twice before, but I hadn’t seen such a huge variety of options.
They have some awesome options including onion rings, sweet potato fries and spicy sweet potato fries– plus lots more! I love that the Alexia fries are all-natural and really great quality.
I had a craving for the sweet potato fries and since it’s spring and all, I thought I’d pair them with some of my favorite spring veggies. I always think ricotta goes well with spring veggies, so my mind immediately went to pizza. Fries on a pizza? Heck yes! Sweet potato fries are super versatile. You can put them on a gourmet burger, in a salad– why not on a delicious spring-inspired flatbread pizza? Fancy pizzas are the best and I love loading them with all kinds of non-traditional toppings.
This flatbread starts with a homemade honey whole wheat dough packed with tasty herbs. It’s topped with dollops of creamy ricotta, amazing fresh garlicky spinach, artichokes, asparagus, and of course the star of the flatbread– sweet potato fries. Then the whole thing is sprinkled with Parmesan and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. It’s the perfect combination of fresh, creamy, sweet and savory.
If you want to save a little time, you can use store-bought pizza dough but this dough is definitely worth the effort. Get this on your spring menu ASAP!
- FOR THE DOUGH*:
- 1½ cups warm water, 105-115 degrees
- 1 packet dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 2⅓ cups all purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
- FOR THE FLATBREAD:
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 cups roughly chopped spinach
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 (20 oz) package Alexia sweet potato fries
- 1 bunch thin asparagus
- 1 (15 oz) container fresh ricotta cheese
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 cup roughly chopped artichoke hearts
- Parmesan cheese
- To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add olive oil, honey, salt and 2½ cups flour (either flour is fine). With the dough hook attachment, mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Continuing on speed 2, slowly add the herbs and remaining flour, ½ cup at a time until it’s all incorporated. The dough will form a ball around the hook and come away from the sides of the bowl. (If dough is too sticky, add additional flour). Once this has happened (about 2 min), mix on speed 2 an additional 3 minutes, until dough is soft and elastic. Flour your hands, pull the dough out of the bowl, and form into a ball. Coat the ball in olive oil, set it in a bowl, and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the spinach, toss with garlic, then removed from heat and continue to toss until wilted. Set aside.
- Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until it is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook sweet potato fries according to package directions and set aside.
- While the sweet potato fries are cooking, spread asparagus on a baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes (just to get them a little softened). Remove from oven and set aside.
- Season ricotta with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- Set oven temperature to 375 degrees. If you have pizza stones, set them in the oven.
- Cut the dough into quarters. Roll each quarter into a ball and let sit 5 minutes. Then, roll out the doughs (they don't need to be perfect circles).
- Transfer the dough onto pizza stones OR place the dough on a pizza pan or baking sheet and place in oven. Pre-bake the dough for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Drizzle a little olive oil onto the dough and spread with a pastry brush or the back of a spoon.
- Dollop ¼ of the ricotta evenly around each dough. Then top with ¼ of the spinach mixture and ¼ of the artichoke hearts. Spread asparagus and sweet potato fries evenly over top.
- Return flatbreads to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until crust is crisp.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut and serve!
Are you on team sweet potato fry or team onion ring? What are your favorite spring veggies, and what’s on your spring menu?!