Asparagus Pizza (with Lahey crust, of course...)

Yesterday, I read that innBrooklyn was starting a feature called "The Virtual Veg of the Month", in which they are are looking for seasonal vegetable submissions for photographs and recipes. Asparagus is first on the list, and fortunately for me, I had some on hand.

It seems like spring has been on fast forward this year in my neck of the woods. In less than 24 hours, the Maple tree out front has budded out completely, and the Forsythia in the back is showing off his bright yellow. Both are clear signs that this early warm spell indeed signals the end of the cold. I don't know about other cold-dwellers, but I almost go into denial when the weather warms up - forgetting that I don't need to grab any of my growing knitwear stash, or bundle up the Boy-O when we venture out of doors.

When I read about innBrooklyn's challenge, it made me more than happy to realize that asparagus season is finally here after all, and that I had a challenge to attend to. Moments after reading, I googled "asparagus pizza", since I knew I wanted to make a pizza today. I like to have a jumping off point, but this is dangerous, since it does lead to link saving most of the time. Fortunately for me, I ran into another amazing blog: A Chow Life.

Not only is this a really lovely blog, full of amazing photography and effortless writings, here was an asparagus pizza, exactly as I could imagine one to be. Needless to say, RedMenace instantly gained a follower, and I knew that I would have no chance at making my pizza look as wonderful as hers! But that is OK with me, since there is a lot to learn from viewing beautiful photographs, and there are many, many of them there to choose from.

While A Chow Life photos of asparagus pizza are ethereal and light, mine remind me of an abstract Pollock's - hard and vivid. I know I'm starting to take myself too seriously, when upon waking to a dark, thunderstorming sky this morning, my first thoughts were "how am I going to get great photos of my pizza this evening?"...

While at the moment, photography takes a back seat to my learning of Spanish, I'm more than content to focus still of the making of a pizza. And the eating of a pizza, since this one was really delicious and used up some Easter leftovers. It was actually one of two pizzas, since I had unexpected company from Frankee and her two girls. Let me also note that if you happen to have some leftover frozen meatballs in your freezer, they too make a delicious pizza...

The beauty of pizza is always that you can use as much of each ingredient you like, however, I will note the amounts I used below.

Asparagus, Ham and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza (on Lahey Crust)
  • 1/2 lb. asparagus, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes and plunged into ice water. (Then carefully slice each in half lengthwise. I used extra thin asparagus, if you use thicker, you may need to boil for an additional minute or so.)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced as thinly as you are able
  • 1 1/2 roasted red peppers, sliced into strips (I had some in my freezer from last fall, but you can also use jarred or roast them yourself.)
  • 1 c. diced ham (prosciutto or Serrano ham would also be great substitutions)
  • grated cheese, 1 cup or more to your taste. I used a Wisconsin Munster (made just down the road from my Parents' house), and a little mild provolone, since I was using up what was in the fridge.
  • drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with black (preferably Tellecherry) pepper.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Arrange your toppings, except for the cheese, on the pizza dough (recipe below). Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust begins to look brown along the edges, and center appears cooked. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 5-8 minutes until cheese is melted and browned to your liking.

Lahey Pizza Dough
You have to buy this book, since it is the greatest! He includes the weight measurements that I use in addition to the conventional measurements listed below.
(makes 2 half sheet pans, use a half recipe for a single pizza.)
  • 3 3/4 c. bread flour
  • 2 1/2 t. active dry yeast
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. sugar
  • 1 1/3 c. room temperature water
Stir flour, yeast, salt and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add water and mix until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let rest at room temperature until dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Scrape the dough from the bowl out onto a floured surface and form it into a rough ball. Divide it in two pieces, place them apart from each other, and cover with a damp towel to rest for 30 minutes.

When oven is hot and you are ready for making the pizza, liberally oil the pans. Place a ball of dough in the center of the pan, moist side down. Pull, press and stretch the dough to the size of the pan. It will cover the entire thing. It is now ready to top!

You, too, can join in the fun of the Veg of the Month Club! I love a challenge, especially, since sometimes I get sidetracked by what I want to make and not by what needs to be used up. The freezer is still very, very full and countless meals could be produced here without leaving for a store. Augmented by seasonal veg, I think I'll see what I can come up with in the next few weeks as a way to make space in my freezer and make room for strawberries. Last year, I froze 15 pounds in quart jars, and that takes up some space! I'd also wager that I could eat pizza, especially with the Lahey crust, every day for at least a week. And I never thought I'd say this, but I could almost do it without the cheese! You know then for sure that Lahey crust must be a great recipe.