Editors Note: Call us a little (a lot) biased, but we are thrilled to have Austin Boatwright sharing about the gifts of doing life around the table. She’s been a long-time friend of Redeemed Girl Ministries as a graduate and condo leader at our Redeemed Girl Institute. This girl is the real Jesus-loving deal. We hope you glean much from her gracious words and are stirred to gather your friends around the table!
Who doesn’t love a good flatbread?
Fancy Flatbread with Corn, Pesto & Mozzarella to be exact. It is a simple and savory dish that doesn’t cost a fortune and sure crowd pleaser. Perfect as spring takes a full swing into summer. But more importantly, at the heart of this recipe is more than a love for pizza, but my desire to cultivate friendships through hospitality with real conversation that happen around the table.
Raised along the coast of South Carolina, I recount countless summer nights gathered with family and friends around the table. While my mother effortlessly modeled hospitality, I’ve journeyed through life searching for creative outlets. Whether painting with watercolor or tinkering with new recipes, I have only recently begun to embrace all that cooking means to me.
With the privilege of traveling the world and experiencing new cultures, each new adventure reminds me that life is a gift, worth celebrating. In every city I have visited, food is the common thread that has knit my experiences together. Maybe it’s just me, and my love for food, but in each city I can recall incredible meals and the wonderful people I shared them with. From the exquisite meals in the south of France, to simple and hearty arroz con pollo of Costa Rica, I have learned there truly are no rules when it comes to cooking.
The very fact that I would type those words is rather significant. It’s both refreshing and freeing. I am honestly much more of a baker by nature, your typical rule follower at heart. Confession: I’m a perfectionist. Give me a recipe and I’ll be sure to master it. Measure by measure. Scoop by scoop.
Yet, when it boils down to it, things don’t always go quite as planned in the kitchen—minutes or even seconds throw off timing. The perfectionist rule follower in me is challenged to not just to throw away my “mess ups” but use them to be innovative.
I don’t want to be a woman bound by the rules of culture today, of the blogging world that looks perfect when we all know how staged the images can truly be. I will not think of myself as not good enough, and that I don’t measure up when my meal isn’t Pinterest perfect.
Just like cooking, thoughts are powerful ingredients. Yet all too often we use a substitute and sell ourselves short. I may be an introvert and thrive behind the apron, and that is okay. Actually it’s more than okay:
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31.
It is how I was created, and it’s lovely. It’s not a free pass for sitting at the table and not engaging. Instead, cooking for others challenges me to celebrate who I am and who God has made others to be.
When it comes to hospitality, I typically buy into two lies. One: I am selfish to throw feasts for friends as if it’s some form of bragging (to both my girlfriends and the Instagram world). Two: Don’t do it, I’ll mess up. (Pure performance anxiety.)
Rather, hospitality is neither! Sharing my love for food with others is a gift. It allows me the space to love others well. Meals can be so much more than a routine and fuel for the body, but a time and place for community, story telling, and other ramblings seasoned with encouragement.
When I gather together people in my home, it’s a chance to initiate. It provides me the space to show others my real world, to ask questions and give honest answers. I’m not one to seek out uncomfortable things, but I have learned the joy of making a mess in the kitchen in front of a new friend. I get to quit waiting for people to pursue me, and I get to pursue them. I get to invite God to show up. If I constantly choose to take the easy way (take)-out I miss out on being my genuine self. Cooking for others gives me the chance to be true to who God made me to be and become fully alive. I get to create variations of simple recipes, dream up the unthinkable, fail miserably every once in a while, yet be super successful all at the same time because I was willing to try.
If I could encourage you in this, it is to let your table be a place of love. Let it be a canvas for your talents, a space for the honest conversations and prayers. Lay it out all out there on the table: pizza crust, crumbs, and all. Because life is happening, and it is absolutely worth celebrating.
Corn, Pesto & Mozzarella Flatbread
– A round flat breads or pizza crusts
– 2 dollops of pesto
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– Garlic, minced
– s & p
– 1 corn, off the cob
– 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced
– Goat cheese, crumbled
– Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
What to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place crusts on stone or makeshift baking sheets. Smather in pesto.
3. Sauté corn with the olive oil, garlic, and some s & p, over high heat for about 1 minute, until charred.
4. Place mozzarella evenly on the crust, scatter with tomatoes and sprinkle with cooked corn. Bake for 12-ish minutes, until the cheese starts to get gooey.
5. Top with crumbled goat cheese and garnish with basil. Serve it up with a balsamic Margherita side salad- then sit down and enjoy!
*I purchased thin, large, pre-baked pizza crusts in lieu of flatbread, but feel free to use any bread of your choosing: naan, pita, pizza crust, etc. (But like I said, there are truly no rules!)
Photography by Caitlin Colcolough