Asparagus pizza...

It's Spring time and time for... asparagus! :) OK, I have to admit that it took me some time to start liking asparagus. Maybe it's because I was trying/eating it always the very same way - either with garlic butter or hollandaise sauce and an egg... and there are SO MANY more options! I particularry liked the below one - asparagus pizza! There were actually two versions of it made at the same time - one, exactly like the below and second one with some tomato sauce at the bottom of the dough, as a first layer of toppings. The one without the sauce, was much, much better!
All the cheeses melted to create some kind of sauce, moisture and it became very creamy like, asparagus and ham - both having mild, not strong tastes - worked brilliantly with the cheese and caramelized onion, whereas the tomato sauce on the other one was very much in contradiction with all the other toppings... Hope you'll try it! How else would you use your asparagus? Any other ideas?

asparagus pizza river cottage

The recipe for both the dough and the idea of asparagus pizza comes from "Veg Everyday!" River Cottage cookbook.
PS. If you omit the ham - this becomes great vegetarian meal! :)

How to make it...

For the dough
- 250 g plain white flour
- 250 g strong white flour
- 1 ½ level teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon easy-blend (instant) yeast
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil, plus a little extra
For the topping
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for trickling
- 2 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch slender asparagus spears (about 400 g)
- 150 g air-dried ham such as parma or serrano
- hard, matured goat's cheese or parmesan (I used mozarella and cheddar, adding both before pizza went into the oven)

To make the dough, put the flours in a large bowl with the salt and yeast. Mix well. Add the oil and 325 ml warm water, and mix to a rough dough. Flour your hands a little, then tip out the dough on to a work surface and knead rhythmically for five to 10 minutes, until smooth. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – at least one hour.
Heat the oven to 240 C if it goes that high, or at least 220 C and put in a baking sheet to warm up.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Once sizzling, turn the heat to low and cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the onions are very soft and golden – at least 15 minutes, up to 30.
Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingers. Leave to rest for a few minutes, then cut into three. Roll out one piece as thinly as you can. Take the hot baking sheet from the oven, scatter over a little flour (or fine polenta/cornmeal) and lay the dough base on it. Spread a third of the onions over the dough and arrange a third of the asparagus on top. Tear the ham into shreds and lay a third of it over the asparagus. At this stage I've added my m torn up mozarella and grated cheddar. Season and finish with a generous trickle of oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the base is crisp, the edges browned and the asparagus tender. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping. Serve hot in slices or wedges, scattered with fine shavings of goat's cheese or parmesan and a splash more oil.


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