Fresh spinach and an Upslope IPA make a perfect pizza

Spinach is in season at Berry Patch Farms, a family-owned certified organic farm in Brighton, and Berry Patch spinach -- deeply forest green in color and bitter and sweet in flavor -- is some of the best around.

While I was munching on some of that spinach the other day, I thought it might go well with a bittersweet ale, like a well-balanced IPA, a style of beer I hadn't had in a while. With a bug for one, I picked up a sixer of Upslope Brewing's IPA and decided to make a spicy spinach and feta pizza for dinner. Pizza, after all, is probably the best companion to the hoppy, strong and essentially American IPA.

Since I'm not down with store-bought crust, though, I resolved to make my own from scratch, a task which I had never before tackled. Turns out it's not that hard. In fact, I actually tossed it in the air a few times and felt like a pro.

But topping it with local ingredients is the best part, and it ended up being a very tasty pie that paired well with the IPA. Upslope makes a good one: The citrusy hops were balanced by a good malt base, making it quite drinkable, and it complemented the baked spinach while standing up to the spicy red pepper flakes.

Here's the recipe:

1 teaspoon salt 5 ounces warm water 2 cups flour (you can get local organic flour from In Season Local Market) 1 package dry active yeast Olive oil Fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry ½ cup mushrooms, chopped 4 ounces feta cheese, preferably from Haystack Mountain Crushed red pepper flakes to taste Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry yeast and 1 cup of flour. 2. Add salt and water, and using a wooden spoon, stir until its combined. 3. Add the remaining cup of flour and stir until it starts to become a single mass. 4. Lay the dough out on a flat, clean surface dusted with flour. 5. Knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until it's a smooth ball (about 5-10 minutes). 6. Lightly grease another bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it so that it's evenly coated with the oil. 7. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until it doubles in size. 8. Once the dough rises, turn out once again on a flour-dusted surface and punch the air out of it. 9. Using a rolling pin, or empty wine bottle, roll out the dough until desired thickness. 10. Drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh spinach, mushrooms, cheese, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. 11. Place the pie on a preheated pizza stone, or baking sheet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust turns golden brown.

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