Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Take it from me, a pizza lover who headed to Naples just to eat pizza... You don't need to have a wood-fired pizza oven at home to make good pizza (though it would be nice). You need a few pointers, kind of a "pizza 101" primer and you can master great pies at home.
Let's get one thing straight! I love pizza so much that my last meal on earth will most definitely be a pizza of some sort. I don't know if it would be a pizza topped with sweet Italian stewed tomatoes and Gorgonzola, a pizza with a fresh arugula salad and shaved Parmigiano on top, or one of my all-time favorites,- a pizza topped with smoked salmon, caviar and creme fraiche. I haven't decided what kind yet but thank God, I don't have to make that decision yet.
Last weekend in my pizza and pasta workshop class, one of the pizzas that my students made had a whole bulb of roasted garlic smeared onto the top first. Then they topped that with Italian fontina, blanched asparagus, red onions pickled in red wine vinegar and thin strips of prosciutto. It had that sweet, sour, salty thing going on and it was incredible.
We served it piping hot out of the oven with Sauvignon Blanc and we were all in heaven.
PIZZA WITH ASPARAGUS, PICKLED ONIONS AND PROSCIUTTO
1 recipe Weir Dough
1 whole bulb of garlic
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups red or white wine vinegar
12 spears asparagus, ends trimmed, 1/2-inch diagonally, about 6 ounces
3/4 cup grated fontina cheese, about 3 ounces
8 paper-thin slices prosciutto, torn into 1-inch strips
Make the pizza dough and let rise overnight.
Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Place the garlic in a small baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon water. Cover with foil and bake in the oven until the garlic is tender 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the garlic and let cool. Puree in a potato ricer or food mill which separate the pulp from the paper. Discard the paper. Add the 1 tablespoon of the oil to the garlic pulp and stir together.
Place the onions in a bowl and add enough vinegar until they are submerged. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons salt and let sit 20 to 30 minutes.
Thirty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and set the oven temperature to 500F.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook just until tender and still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and cool.
Punch down the dough. On a floured surface, divide the dough into two pieces and form each into round balls. Roll or form one piece of the dough into a 12 to 13-inch circle, ¼ to 1/8" thick. If it is difficult for you to shape the dough this large, let the dough rest for 5 minutes and try again. Use a rolling pin to facilitate the rolling process. Transfer it to a well floured pizza peel or paddle. Lightly brush the dough to within ½" of the edge with the garlic paste. Sprinkle half of the drained onions and cheese over the dough. Top with half of the asparagus, distributing evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with half of the prosciutto, distributing evenly. Drizzle each pizza with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve immediately.
Continue with the remaining ingredients to make a second pizza.
Makes 2 pizzas, 12 to 13-inches diameter and serves 12