Does anyone else wake up in the middle of the night and start thinking about very strange things? When that happens to me, I’m sometimes convinced I’ve had a brilliant breakthrough. My latest brainstorm, coincidentally the night of the last big windstorm, had to do with pizza. More specifically, thinking of pizza dough as a blank slate to be filled in seasonally with whatever wonderful toppings I can find at the Farmers Market. Hmmm….. putting it down on paper changes it somehow. Brilliant? Maybe not. Deliciously fresh and local? Most definitely.
Come to think of it, this astute insight was probably the result of paging through the May issue of Bon Appetit just before bed and seeing a beautiful photograph of a pizza with fingerling potatoes and asparagus. The next day, l looked back and realized it was the source of my midnight invention. Still, I can picture a pizza for every season, that photo just got me going.
Of all the toppings on this Spring Market Pizza, the potatoes were an unexpected favorite. Using an All Red from Olsen Farms, I boiled it in salted water for about 15 minutes, then sliced it very thin. Potatoes could work for any season and provided the perfect amount of heft to a vegetarian pizza. The pinkish flesh almost looks like ham or Canadian bacon. Other toppings are plentiful — goat cheese from Port Madison, fresh mozzarella from Golden Glen Creamery, green garlic from Alm Hill, asparagus from any number of vendors, even basil from Billy’s Organic. It’s all there at the market — and much more once you start thinking of the many delicious ways you can fill your seasonal pizza palate.
Since I used the topping ideas from Bon Appetit, I probably should have used their pizza dough recipe too. I’ve become infatuated with my no-knead bread, and have been making it regularly so I thought it would make an ideal pizza crust too. I won’t lie, it was a little tricky to work with but the taste was so exceptional, I decided to keep trying. I haven’t gotten to the place where I’m confident you won’t be cursing me if you try it, so all I’ll say is that it’s basically the no-knead recipe with a few tablespoons of olive oil added and 1/4 cup rye flour instead of all unbleached white flour. Once I got to the final step of forming the loaf, I cut the dough into two and added enough flour (a lot!) to make it kneadable without being too sticky. Full disclosure — I also had quite a bit of difficulty with the dough tearing. One solution I found is baking the pizza on parchment paper. It’s a much easier surface to work on knowing that the dough won’t stick to it. As a formerly baking-challenged person, parchment paper has become my new best friend in the kitchen. No need for sprinkling cornmeal or a pizza stone, no sticking, no muss, no fuss.
Spring Market Pizza
1 medium- large potato or several fingerlings, boiled in salted water until tender, cooled and sliced very thin
3-4 T olive oil
1 garlic clove
5 green garlics, white & light green parts sliced on an angle
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 ounces fresh, soft goat cheese
8 ounces thin asparagus, woody bottom broken off
Handful of fresh basil cut into strips
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Pizza Dough (try the no-knead, if you dare)
Put olive oil in a small bowl. Crush garlic and place in oil.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Stretch pizza dough and form an oval on parchment paper on a large baking sheet.
Brush garlic olive oil over the entire pizza dough leaving a border around the outside for the crust.
Arrange potato slices and crumble goat cheese on the dough. Sprinkle with green garlic and mozzarella.
Toss asparagus and basil in a mixing bowl with the remaining garlic olive oil until it is well coated. Remove from oil and scatter on pizza along with parmesan cheese. Salt lightly and pepper generously.
Bake until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 18 minutes.