I love May, full of birthdays (my sister and I’s) and the green spears of asparagus decide to make a brief appearance. Surely one of the finest vegetables with a flavour like no other.
I’ve always found asparagus season intriguing, it’s so short and makes the availability of British asparagus so appealing. You are forced to save up all of your asparagus recipes for this one little window of the year and then POW! Asparagus begins to appear on everything. So to celebrate this asparagus-fest, we popped ours on a pizza, there is something special about the flavours of asparagus that lends it to Italian cuisine.
It’s not often that we get a pizza on the roll, the original idea for asparagus on pizza came from a lovely blog friend Margaret over at Pachamama’s Beautiful Food. If you haven’t been over to this wonderful oasis of food and nature, we highly recommend a visit. Margaret is sure to brighten up your day!
The ingredients here are pan roasted off in a little balsamic before topping the dough, adding a nice sweet/ sharp tang. This pizza also comes with an oil that packs even more flavour onto this already heavy-laden crust. We’d serve it in a bowl separately and let people help themselves.
Pesto we had left over and thought it sounded like a right good idea, this does make it a very rich affair, but adds a tonne of flavour. The pesto we used was your standard green pesto, plenty of parmesan and basil. A regular tomato sauce would also be wonderful here. Lemon zest is also a brilliant addition and really shines through here, not something you see often on a pizza.
Asparagus is one of the oldest recorded vegetables and is said to originate from the Mediterranean, it was much revered by the Greeks and Romans (and still is!) Asparagus is related to the onion and garlic, also the daffodil and tulip. Asparagus is one of those strange vegetables that actually take up more calories to digest, than they offer the body, making it a negative-calorie vegetable (celery is another). A celery and asparagus could just be the ultimate ‘diet’ salad.
Asparagus must be served as fresh as possible, if not the sugars present turn to starch and it loses flavour. Asparagus is best harvested early in the morning and kept in the fridge in a plastic bag, this will keep them tender and conserve the vitamins present.
All roads lead us to pizza at the moment. We actually went out to a social gathering recently with the lovely people from work, Italian style. The pizza was nice, a Welsh Rarebit with three different cheese and a salad with brown lentils, raspberry and local blue cheese. Nice stuff, it has restored our faith in all things restaurant in our area.
Normally I’m a brown flour chap, but a little white does make things alot lighter and a heavy pizza dough is just no fun. It doesn’t matter what you do,where you buy it from, how Italian the flour is; if you don’t make your own pizza dough, it just ain’t the same! Give it a whirl…..
Pizza Dough – equal quantities white and brown flour, live yeast, pinch salt, 1 teas malt extract (dissolved in warm water), 2 tbs olive oil, extra flour for dusting and oil fro brushing
Toppings- 8 stalks asparagus (tops cut in half length ways), 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/3 courgette (sliced at a 45o angle), 1 ball mozzarella (sliced into 1 cm slices), 1/2 lemon zest, handful of pitted olives (chopped), 1/4 cup Greek yoghurt, pinch chilli flakes, 2 tbs green pesto, fresh basil leaves, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar (for roasting veg)
Oil – 2 garlic cloves (crushed), 1/2 lemon zest, juice 1 lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbs white wine vinegar
Make your pizza dough. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, stir with one hand and add warm water with the other, gradually, little at a time. When it starts coming together stop and form a neat ball.
Lay on a floured surface and begin to knead dough for at least 10 minutes, give it some elbow grease here. The dough will become nice and elastic, rub with olive oil, place in a large bowl and cover with a cloth/ cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, it should double in size.
Get your toppings ready, in a small frying pan, add a little olive oil and begin to roast your asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, when they are beginning to colour they are ready. Repeat process with tomato and courgette.
Roll out your dough on an oiled surface and either use your hands or a rolling pin to massage the dough into a pizza shape (you decide what that is, rustic-ness always welcome). It will be resistant and needs a little coaxing, but will eventually rest into a shape. For a golden crust brush with a little oil.
Pre heat oven to 200oC.
Spread pesto on pizza, leaving a one inch gap around the edges then scatter your toppings with glee on your dough. Be reckless and generous. Finish with big blobs of yoghurt.
Pop in oven and check after 10 minutes, may need another 5 depending on the potency of your hot box. The base of the pizza should be cooked in the centre (give it a little tap, it should sound gently hollow)
For the oil, simply add all to a bowl and whisk together. This will keep well in the fridge overnight and may be all the better for it!
Hot out of the oven with a nice light green salad with a sweet-ish dressing.
We Love It!
Too easy to love this one, far too easy. From zesty top to crispy bottom, its a all round champion!
Asparagus is a good source of dietary fibre and can help with IBS, they are also rich in the vitamin B’s and folates. It also contains many minerals, especially copper and iron.