One of the greatest lessons my great grandfather Herman Berghoff has taught me, is the necessity for continuously reinventing your business. Luckily history gave him great reasons to do so, and recently environmental issues have helped me. As a mother I teach my kids the importance of recycling, reducing waste, and conserving energy, and as a Chef and CEO I am able to do the same, but on a much larger scale.
The Berghoff has been operating with a “green attitude” since we opened our doors in 1898. My great grandfather has always believed in supporting the local economy and providing patrons with the freshest ingredients. I’d like to believe that I continue this tradition today. Coming this June, Berghoff Restaurant and Catering Group will kick off a program started last year, called the 200-Mile Initiative. We will primarily use food grown within a 200-mile radius of Chicago, not only supporting local, family-owned farms, but bringing fresher and more nutritious ingredients to our tables.
As a chef I am constantly trying to reduce our “global footprint” through creating sustainable dishes. Reducing waste through creating dishes that uses all the food in my kitchen and “cooking clean” is a constant at home and in the Restaurant. Not too long ago I came up with one of my favorite “sustainable dishes” as a way to try to use all the leftover vegetables in my fridge, while getting my kids to actually enjoy eating them. The product: Berghoff Veggie Pizza. My favorite part about it…you can substitute any veggies or cheese, in an effort to use what you have. The pizza is not only clean and fresh, but is something that pizza and veggie lovers alike will love! Being green is easier than you think. In celebration of Earth Day, I challenge you to find ways to reduce your own global footprint. If you’re anything like me, I think you will find it’s easiest to start in the kitchen!
I love veggies on my pizza but I like them uniform in size, and cooked and mellow, not big and half raw. So I created this recipe for veggie lovers. I like to use whatever vegetables I have in my fridge or find at the farmer’s market that week. If using spinach, either buy the ready-to-us six or ten ounce bag, or be sure to thoroughly clean and trim fresh spinach. Spinach looses volume in cooking, so if you like a little spinach, use the six-ounce bag. If you prefer a lot of spinach, go for the ten-ounce bag, but cook that in two batches.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion, cut 1/8 inch thick
- 4 cups sliced red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, cut into 1/8-inch thick rings (about 2 large peppers)
- 1 (6 ounce) bag ready-to-use baby spinach, or 1 (10 ounce) bag ready-to-use spinach
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (10 by 15-inch) Plain or Herb Homemade Pizza Crust (found in The Berghoff Café Cookbook)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a 12-inch nonstick sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until they are tender and translucent. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring, until they are tender and soft. Add the spinach in two batches and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts. Sprinkle with salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool while you roll out the crust.
On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll one pizza crush dough (half of the recipe) into a 10 by 15-inch rectangle. Ease and stretch to fit a 10 by 15 by 1-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix the remaining tablespoon of oil with the garlic. Scrape the mixture onto the crust and brush to cover. Scrape the mixture onto the crust and brush to cover. Spread the crust evenly with 1 cup of the cheese. Using tongs, lift the veggies from the sauté pan and distribute them evenly over the cheese. (Leave any juices in the pan.) Sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese and bake until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, lift and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. Cut in half lengthwise and then each half into quarters widthwise, into eight rectangles. Serve immediately.
Substitute Swiss or mild Cheddar cheese for the mozzarella. Add or subtract veggies to your liking and what you have in your fridge.