This flatbread, with its pungent leafy greens, tart apples and strong blue cheese, practically screams autumn. But here In Houston, our growing seasons are a bit upside down. We grow fall vegetables such as leafy greens, lettuce and brassicas during the winter for a spring harvest in order to avoid the impossibly hot summer temperatures that start as early as April. This means we are eating vegetables like collards, fava beans, chickpeas, and escarole in the spring instead of the fall. While we're enjoying the last of these wonderful vegetables, our snap beans, tomatoes, and other summer vegetables are also maturing, a clear sign it's the end of our spring vegetable season.
This flatbread includes both radicchio and escarole from the garden, two of our favorite chicories. These plants, started last October, have far exceeded expectations by producing massive, thick heads of leafy greens. We also use a fennel bulb from the garden. All these plants are suffering badly due to our high temperatures. We're hoping the fennel will last a few more weeks still, but the chicories are about done for the season. To enjoy this flatbread despite the heat, we just turned up the air conditioning and let the flavors serve as a reminder that cooler weather, at least here in Houston, is only about five months away.
Flatbread with Sauteed Apples, Fennel, Radicchio, Escarole and Stilton
2 cup escarole leaves, washed, stems removed and
2 cup radicchio leaves, washed, stems removed and
1 cup apple juice
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, about 1 1/4 cups
1 Granny Smith apple, very thinly sliced
sea salt and black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil, plus more for flatbread
1 Tbs butter
3 oz Stilton or other strong blue cheese, crumbled
(we used Neal's Yard Colston Basset Stilton)
1 ball flatbread dough, at room temp for 5 minutes before rolling out
flour for rolling out dough and cornmeal for peel
- Preheat oven to 450° and place rack in top third of oven. Place pizza stone on rack and heat, ideally for one hour, before baking flatbread.
- Heat apple juice over medium high until it is reduced in volume to 1/3 cup.
- Heat olive oil, fennel, 1/4 tsp salt and a few pinches of pepper over medium. Saute about 2 minutes, then add greens and another 1/4 tsp salt and another pinch of pepper. Cook until greens are wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add apples and apple juice and continue to cook until greens are very soft.
- Remove from heat and leave in the pan to cool. Add the butter and toss together.
- Roll out dough on a well-floured surface. Cover very lightly with olive oil.
- Spread half the cheese over the dough, then add greens and apples. Top with remaining cheese, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
- Bake until bread is crispy and golden brown and cheese is well melted. Serve immediately.
Other Escarole recipes from Vegetable Matter:
Escarole Soup with Arborio Rice and Escarole Blue Cheese Crostini