I’ve got the lovely Shira from In Pursuit of More guest posting here today. I’ll be honest, I probably cook more off Shira’s blog then I do out of any of the cookbooks in my house. That may have something to do with the fact that we’re a mere 5 days apart in age, us Virgos must have some very similar taste. Today she’s brought you this incredible Tuscan White Bean and Basil Pizza. Meet me again at the end of this post for more of my favorites from her site.
Howdy Vedged out readers! I’m super thrilled to be sharing a post with Somer’s amazing readers today and hope you guys enjoy this yummy recipe! When a friend reaches out and asks for a hand, there is really only one thing you can do: offer both of yours up and see if there is anyone else out there with a few to spare. I’ve been re-inspired of late by the amazing opportunities we have everyday to make other people feel special, and to literally make their day, or their week, or their year.
Of all the good deeds I’ve seen in the past few days, there is one that struck me as particularly potent, especially if we are looking to make a difference in the life of a stranger, and perhaps someone a whole lot less fortunate than we are (on the surface anyway). The other night, me and a girlfriend were ending an evening of wonderful food and drink at a friend’s new restaurant, when, as we walked to my car, we passed a woman about our age pushing a grocery cart.
It was raining, the first rain since the start of July, and she was well bundled in fleece, with a hat, and didn’t look like she had anywhere to go. She saw us walking past as there was no one else on the street, and her eyes caught mine. Used to walking past people asking for money (I regularly hand out 5 dollar bills – it just makes me feel good), I naturally assumed she might need/want some cash. But somehow her look that night was different.
“Hi”, I said, as I interrupted our chirpy girlfriend chatter, “Is there something you need?”. I rifled through my bag, searching for what I didn’t know. Did I have a bar? A snack? A bill I could spare? She didn’t answer but looked down as if embarrassed and waved both of her hands like she was sorry to interrupt us. We stood there for a split second in the dark night before my gorgeous girlfriend (inside and out) broke the silence with, “Do you need a hug?”.
With that, my girlfriend approached her, without giving her the option to decline, and gave her a giant hug. A long hug, the kind you settle into, and the kind that passes energy between two people the way nothing else really can. They both wrapped their arms around each other and shared. It wasn’t a fast hug, or a false hug, or the kind that passes between acquaintances and family as part of obligation, along with all the awkwardness that often goes had in had with those exchanges too. Afterwards, it was my turn, and I nestled into this woman’s fleecy softness and was filled with gratitude for such a sweet, simple exchange of love & kindness. It felt good. Pure. So simple. And so real.
A reminder that we are all human, born not of our choosing, and given the freedom to choose our actions every moment of every day no matter what our lot in life.
Afterwards, I was on such a high for the gift my friend had given not only the woman we saw on the street, who carried on into the darkness with her cart and hopefully a full heart, but to me too.
To realize that human need is so much more than just material, and that those all around us need love & kindness, and the kind you can’t buy with all the spare change in the world. Feeding the heart and soul is every bit as important as keeping our tummies full, and I was reminded of the power we all hold with just a simple extending of our arms.
I hope you’ll enjoy this beautiful pizza as it wraps its hearty arms around you, as this rustic Tuscan recipe conjures up images of old grandmothers & sunny countrysides. Simple, easy & good. Like a hug from a stranger, well maybe not that good, but you know what I mean :)
Tuscan White Bean & Basil Pizza:
- (1.5) cups white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
- (2) cloves garlic, minced
- (1) tbsp olive oil
- (1) cup vegetable stock (divided)
- (1/2) tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- (1/4) cup fresh basil, cut in ribbons or minced
- (3) roma tomatoes, cut in rounds
- olive oil for baking the crust
- (1) recipe pizza dough (my recipe here Basic IPOM Pizza Dough, Somer’s recipe here Vedged Out Pizza Dough)
First, prepare the pizza dough in advance according to directions, or use your favorite pre-made dough (I have a fave Italian deli I buy from and keep ‘emergency’ dough in my freezer).
To create this simple rustic pizza, complete the following steps. This is a wonderfully simple yet totally fresh take on pizza that I find simple yet still sophisticated.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium low until warm and add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic, stirring often to keep the garlic from burning. Cook the garlic for 2 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Add the drained beans, about (1/3) cup veggie stock to start and the salt & pepper. Cook this mixture for a few minutes until the stock has evaporated, adding more to achieve a creamy consistency. Do this for 10-15 minutes until all the stock has been used and the beans are hot and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in half the basil.
While the beans are simmering, prepare the pizza crust (enough for one pizza). Oil a round or rectangular baking sheet and stretch the dough over the pan. Lightly brush the crust with olive oil and prick here and there with a fork. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Remove, prick the crust again all over with a fork, and cook for another 4 minutes.
Remove the pre-baked crust, and when the beans are ready, spread them evenly over the entire pizza. Place the tomato slices over the top and drizzle with a little more olive oil and black pepper.
Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the crust is brown on the edges. Top with the remaining fresh basil and the Parmesan cheese or vegan cheese topping of your choice.
This pizza makes a wonderful first course to a dinner party and offers folks a chance to try something new and delicious over a glass of wine and good conversation. It is beautiful to look at and showcases a good crust and the beautiful flavors of fresh garlic & summer basil.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge and make the perfect on the go lunch. Particularly if you like cold or room temperature pizza as much as I do :)
Love and hugs to all, particularly to my dear blogging friend Somer, who asked me so kindly to be here today (insert gratitude here). We all need hugs, whether virtual or otherwise, so do reach out and hug someone today. You never know what’s around the corner, so don’t wait, not ever. The time is now, so reach out and grab it, squeeze it hard, and don’t ever let go.
Yours in Less,
Somer’s Note: Feeling so much love from this post. Do you have an extra hand to lend to others in need? Visit Shira at her charity site, Not So Fast. Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of my very favorite recipes from Shira. I’ve made each of them more than a handful of times, and each one feels (almost) as good as I imagine a hug from the woman herself would:
Clockwise: Cashew Rice Loaf with Red Pepper Sauce, Spiced Lentils & Indian Chapatis, Almond Chocolate Rice Crispie Squares, Fiesty Fried Cumin Hummus, 3 Ingredient Soy Balsamic Dressing, Chuffed and Roasted Potatoes, Incredible Cranberry Orange Dressing, Sunny Day Orange Date Shake