The warm weather of spring and the effects of all that meat enjoyed on Easter call for much lighter eating these days. Salads, fresh fruit, fish and tons of vegetables simply tossed in olive oil are on the menu more-so now than ever before.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative though. So, why not put together a healthy homemade pizza dotted with vegetables, cheese and, well, whatever else your heart desires? Note: we’re thinking healthy for now, so just put the sausage, bacon and pepperoni back in the fridge for a little while. Think, peppers, onions, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini or … ASPARAGUS!
I didn’t like asparagus as a kid. It was honestly the only vegetable I could not bear to eat back then and my mom made it often. Very often. And each time, I was left on the table moping over the few green stalks left on my plate while everyone else had already cleared the table. Fast forward to today: I enjoy asparagus much more now and appreciate this nutrient-rich veggie and all its culinary potential. Thank goodness my kids do too.
For myself, the easiest and simplest way to prepare asparagus is by either steaming or boiling it for just a few minutes, preserving the beautiful shade of green it takes on when cooking first begins and keeping a bite/crunch to the tender stalks. But, when roasted asparagus takes on a completely different flavor; though it’s vibrant green color is lost (and it in all honesty takes on an unappealing shade of brownish/green), asparagus boasts a mildly sweet flavor when roasted. And that is exactly why I fell in love with this pizza. That and the goat cheese, the scallions, the garlic, the tangy Greek Kefalograviera I sprinkled over and the crunchy homemade crust that serves as the perfect foundation for all the aforementioned ingredients. Even the kiddies agreed: my 6-year old daughter exclaimed, “Mama, you’re the best cooker! You should really go on T.V.” To which my 3-year old son responded, “No! Mama have to stay home with me!” Too cute (if I say so myself), but that’s it for the gushing [wink, wink].
Πίτσα με Σπαράγγια, Kρεμμυδάκια και Κατσικίσιο Τυρί — Asparagus, Scallion and Goat Cheese Pizza
For the Dough:
3/4 tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a medium bowl combine the yeast, warm water, salt and olive oil. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Mix well, either with a wooden spoon or with your hand so that all the flour is well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When ready to prepare the pizza, gather dough from bowl and form into a ball with your hands. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal. Flatten the ball of dough with the palm of your hand; let the dough stand 5 to 10 minutes then flatten it again; repeat until you have stretched the dough to a circle about 16 inches in diameter. Proceed with pizza recipe as desired. (If not using the dough on the same day, refrigerate for up to a week. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand 45 minutes before using.)
For the Asparagus, Scallion and Goat Cheese Pizza:
3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
3/4 cup grated Kefalograviera (or pecorino/parmesan)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven to preheat; if using a baking sheet, line with parchment paper; if using a round baking tin, lightly oil the tin. Once you’ve stretched your pizza dough into a 16-inch round (as stated in the recipe above), sprinkle the dough with half the olive oil and begin layering the scallions, garlic, asparagus and cheeses. Sprinkle with remaining olive oil, coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Bake the pizza until the crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slice and enjoy!