This has got to be, hands down, my favorite spring recipe. Each spring, as the weather slowly warms up and green things start poking out of the ground again, I start craving it.
I mean, first of all, what’s more spring than asparagus? Sure, rhubarb, all pink and pretty, is right up there, but you can’t eat rhubarb raw. And isn’t that what we all want at this point? Some piece of produce that we can put straight into our mouths, uncooked…after months and months of stews and soups.
I hear your resounding yeses.
But asparagus, while slightly cooked in this recipe, is excellent raw. Did you know this? I didn’t until trying this recipe. To prepare the asparagus for this pizza, you use a vegetable peeler to peel long, curly strips of asparagus, which in and of itself, is pretty appetizing. But then, you toss those thin asparagus strips in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you really could stop right there. In fact, I strongly suggest making more asparagus than can top your pizza, because I guarantee you, you will eat several large handfuls of this mixture before the pizza’s even assembled.
But we press on. A simple pizza dough, topped with !feta! and mozzarella, and then a bit of garlic and that fresh asparagus mixture. Baked into more of a cheesy flat bread than a true pizza (there is no sauce here), bits of the asparagus get slightly and deliciously charred, while resting atop a perfectly bubbling and browned pizza. Toss some sliced green onions on top just after pulling it out of the oven, and you’ll understand why I look forward to making this all year long.
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen )
(yields one thin-crust 12-14" pizza)
I adapted this recipe just slightly from its original by using less mozzarella and feta instead of parmesan. Additionally, I threw in a few cloves of garlic. I also found that the pizza was done much faster than the original recipe recommended baking it for.
Try to buy medium-thick to thick stalks of garlic. You'll have a hard time shaving those really thin stalks. And no need to remove the woody ends; you can use those as a handle!
1 1/2 c. flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warmish water (may need up to 1 or 2 tbsp. more)
1 tbsp. olive oil
For the Toppings:
1/2 lb. asparagus (look for medium-thick stalks)
1/2 c. crumbled feta
2 or 3 c. mozzarella, shredded (amount determined by taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I used Kosher)
Several grinds black pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
For the Pizza Crust:
Preheat oven to 200*.
Stir dry ingredients, including room-temperature yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can with a wooden spoon. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a ball.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (I use cooking spray and spread it around with a paper towel). Place dough in bowl, rolling it around to coat it with the cooking spray. Cover it with a floured kitchen towel.
Turn your oven off once it reaches 200*.
Place your covered bowl in your warm (but offed!) oven, and eave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
After it's doubled in size, dump it back onto a floured counter, and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit, covered, for another 20 minutes in a warm spot.
For the Pizza:
To prepare the asparagus, hold a stalk by its woody end and then use a vegetable peeler to peel away from you to create thin strips. Peel each stalk, turning as you go, until you can't peel anymore. I found that I'd often have one thicker piece left that the peeler couldn't handle, and I just used a paring knife to cut it in half lengthwise. The asparagus tips won't peel well, but they add a nice texture to the pizza, left whole or crumbled a bit. Place strips in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Try not to eat all of it.
Preheat oven to 500*. (Preheat baking stone if using by putting it in oven as it heats).
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll out the pizza (pretty thin!) and place it on your stone or sheet.
Sprinkle your feta and mozzarella over the dough, then top with the garlic and shaved asparagus mixture.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Once removed from the oven, top the pizza with the green onion slices.
Slice and enjoy!