Michelle Abraham: I was working when my mom picked up my secret ingredients. I impatiently paced around the building waiting for her to text me my set, both nervous and excited.
First ingredient -- gluten-free dough, immediately I knew I would choose to make a pizza. It's a family favorite and a perfect base for something more eccentric like my second ingredient -- salsify root.
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What is salsify root? I'm guessing most of you have no idea, just like I didn't last week. Thankfully, Google provided me with an immense background on the root vegetable noting important cooking tips including wearing gloves when handling the non-peeled veggie, and submersing the peeled root in a water/lemon juice bath to prevent it from browning before cooking.
Finally, I was assigned pears. Yum, but I wasn't sure if pear pizza was a good idea with a foreign vegetable. Luckily, salad is always a great pizza partner.
I decided to make what I consider "fancy" pizza and salad, swapping the usual tomato sauce for pesto, and using spinach, walnuts and cheese in my pear salad.
The gluten-free crust was a breeze to work with and tasted on par to traditional crust. Working with salsify might be a slight time commitment, but it's honestly worth it. What other vegetable is described as a cross between an oyster and an artichoke, and acts as a buttery contributor to this perfect pizza.
Sarah Lee: I was very nervous to find out what the secret ingredients were. When I had heard what the previous groups received, I felt a little at ease as I was familiar with each of the ingredients. That was until I actually picked up my ingredients.
I opened the bag with much anticipation only to find what looked like tree bark and a big white blob of something. I looked more closely and recognized the pizza dough but I had no idea what salsify root is. I Googled it and found that it is actually a common ingredient found in Europe. The best way to prepare it is to steam or boil it and that it tastes like artichoke hearts. When I came home, I immediately started testing the ingredients. I boiled the salsify root and yes, it does taste like artichoke hearts. I baked off a little piece of the dough and it is thick Chicago-style crust. When the dough baked to a golden brown and looked bubbly I thought it looked like a tostada.
I wanted to utilize some Korean flavors in the dish. I would have made a Korean marinade myself but I was limited to eight additional ingredients so I bought the pre-made stuff.