Wednesday, October 5, 2011

2011 Kitchen Garden Fall Harvest Recipe: White House Grilled Garden Pizza

Garden-side picnic: From dirt to dining in under an hour...
This afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama, clad in black slacks and an argyle top the color of autmn leaves, plucked jalapeno peppers and sweet potatoes in her 1,500 square-foot Kitchen Garden for the third annual Fall Harvest. She was joined under a cloudless Washington sky by excited 3rd grader Mia Mejia and fifth grader Sterling Zapapta. There were a couple of breaks to reassure the worried kids that both ants and worms are just part of life. (Above: Mrs. Obama in the jalapeno plants with the kids)

"We're going to wash all of this before we eat it," Mrs. Obama said. "That's why it doesn't matter if there are ants on them."

The rest of the garden was a beehive of activity as the kids and the White House chefs paired off to harvest the other vegetable beds, spending about half an hour in the crop rows. Then it was time for a late lunch. Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and the other White House chefs created the healthy garden-to-table treats at a prep table set up at the bottom of the South Lawn, which had a hot grill in action. On offer: White House Grilled Garden Pizza and freshly plucked salad.

Mrs. Obama sat at a picnic table covered in a red and white checked tablecloth to eat with five excited kids. (Above: Mrs. Obama demos the proper way to eat pizza)

"This young man is killing it," Mrs. Obama commented, chuckling, as she watched one of her young dining companions wolf down pizza.

Another child told Mrs. Obama that she usually dislikes tomatoes--then devoured her tomato-covered pizza.

All the vegetables used for the pizza were harvested from the garden today, including the eggplant, sweet potato, red pepper, and basil. The recipe will appear in Mrs. Obama's forthcoming book about the Kitchen Garden, which will be published in April of 2012. The rest of the bounty from today's harvest will be used at next week's State Dinner in honor of President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea, and donated to Miriam's Kitchen, a DC social services agency.

White House Grilled Garden Pizza

1 12-inch pizza dough; it's okay to use frozen dough

2 tbsp olive oil

1 eggplant, cut into coins, ½ inch thick

1 red pepper, sliced, ¼ inch thick

6 oz. tomato sauce, your favorite brand

6 oz. shredded mozzarella, lowfat

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh basil, for garnish

1. Toss the vegetables in olive oil and salt and pepper. Grill until softened but still a bit crunchy. Set aside.

2. Flatten the pizza dough until about 1/8 inch thick. Brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Grill on both sides for about 2 minutes on each side.

4. Top with the tomato sauce, mozzarella and grilled vegetables.

5. Garnish with basil. Serve immediately.

*Serves four

The twenty kids on hand for today's harvest were from Washington, DC's Bancroft Elementary School and Harriet Tubman Elementary School, which have both previously participated in Mrs. Obama's Kitchen Garden events. The White House chefs have adopted Tubman as their own under Mrs. Obama's Chefs Move to Schools initiative. Also on hand today were about 18 adults invited to participate in the first-ever Let's Move! Tweetup. (Above: Mrs. Obama and her lunch companions being photographed by the media on hand to record the outing)

Above: Mrs. Obama poses with the chefs, kids, and baskets of harvest veggies after the plucking.

*Photos and additional reporting by Helena Bottemiller for Obama Foodorama

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