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A Taste of Spring

I love to make pizza.  I love the process of making the dough, adding water and flour back and forth to get it to just the right consistency, still stuck to the bottom of the bowl but able to hold a fingerprint.  I love watching it rise and then deciding whether to make a giant pizza margherita for a party or a few smaller more particular pizzas for a family dinner.  I love choosing toppings and meticulously chopping them up, lining them up on the counter in the order that I want to layer them.  I love smelling the pizza in the oven or on the BBQ, watching the crust turn golden and the cheese bubble up.  I love to eat pizza.  I love the whole thing.  It started when we went to Italy and ate pizza practically everyday for two weeks.  The pizza there was so simple and fresh, nothing like any pizza I had eaten before.  The crust was thin, the toppings were perfection, and each person ordered their own, or maybe that was just us.  The pizza obsession definitely began in Italy.

Perfecting and being consistent with my crust has been the biggest challenge, and also my favorite quest.  I have tried more recipes than I can count, but alas, I have found my favorite.  I found it in an old cookbook called, “The Bread Bible.”  And it isn’t lying with that title.  The crust recipe is substantial enough to hold up to heavier sauces and toppings while also being soft and crisp, not chewy.  It is simple to make and only needs to rise once.  It is my definite go to.

With that master crust in hand, I have been wanting to make a pizza that was light and bright enough to become a Spring staple.  I wanted some spring produce to play a role but was a bit apprehensive about how to go about that on a pizza.  Then I came across a topping combo from half baked harvest that sounded just right.  I adapted it a bit for our tastes and it turned out so delicious that I thought I just had to share.    So here is the literal Taste of Spring Pizza, asparagus, pea pods, perfect crust and all!

Taste of Spring Pizza

The Perfect Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Spring Pizza Toppings

Ingredients

  • Lemon Pepper Vinaigrette
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • juice and zest of 2 lemons
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or more if you are like me)
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup fresh sugar snap peas
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Alfalfa sprouts

 

Directions

  • Pour the warm water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of flour over the surface of the water.  Whisk to combine and let set for 10-15 minutes, until very foamy.
  • In the bowl of your mixer, combine one cup of flour with the salt.
  • Pour in the yeast mixture and stir with paddle attachment to combine.
  • Add the olive oil and combine.
  • Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough forms.  It should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and still stuck to the bottom of the bowl.  It should be a little bit sticky still.  (We live in a dry climate so most of the time, in order to get to 2 1/2 cups of flour I have to add just a bit of water.  It is all about just feeling for consistency.)
  • Switch the attachment to the dough hook and kneed for 3 or 4 minutes, until the dough is soft, springy and still a bit sticky.  Still sticking to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl with a towel or plastic wrap on top.
  • Let rise at room temp for 1 1/2 hours.
  • While the dough is rising, prepare your toppings starting with the vinaigrette.  Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a mason jar or small bowl and stir.
  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • Once the dough has finished rising, divide it into two for 10 inch pizzas or keep whole for one 16-18 inch pizza.
  • Form dough into a ball and place it onto a floured work surface.
  • Using a rolling pin or the heels of your hands, form the dough into a flat round.  I like to roll mine our pretty thin so they end up being about 1/8th of an inch thick.  If you like a thicker crust, keep it that way!
  • Place the dough round onto your pizza stone or pan and top it.
  • Pour two spoonfulls of the vinaigrette onto the dough and spread around with the back of the spoon.  Don’t use too much because the pizza will be soggy.
  • Follow with the feta cheese, the prosciutto, asparagus, pea pods and finally mozzarella.
  • Place your pizza in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on the oven.  You just want that lovely golden color on the crust and the cheese.
  • When the pizza is done, top with alfalfa sprouts and some red pepper flakes.
  • Enjoy the flavors of the season!

Check out other recipes like: herbed focaccia & a week of pesto

 

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