One of the good things about having sick kids is that I came nowhere near using all the pizza dough for Friday night’s dinner of prosciutto and artichoke pizza, and there was plenty left stored in the fridge for an impromptu Sunday lunch by tossing a few leftover ingredients (bacon, Alfredo sauce and fresh mozzarella) from the fridge together with a bunch of spring asparagus and some feta you happened to have on hand for a meal later in the week.
With Ole out of the house and me on my own, I had quite a few helpers underfoot, the least of which was this guy. He’d already been sick much earlier in the week and was eager to get back in the kitchen again every chance he got.
“Mom’s getting water from the fridge? Let me just squeeze in under her arm and see if I can’t point and say please a few times.”
“Mom went to toss a tissue in the trash? I’ll just stumble right along behind her hoping she’ll have pity on me and open a cupboard.”
“Mom looked in my direction while standing on the other side of the living room farthest from the kitchen? Well, she was obviously telling me that she’d love to get in there and find me some food.”
Needless to say, there was no way I was even thinking about putting a hair on my head near that kitchen without his help. Not that I minded. He is a wonderful cheerleader at 20 months.
I’m using leftover crust from the last time I made pizza. Directions for the crust are over with the prosciutto and artichoke pizza. Once you have the crust in the oven to pre-bake it, start with asparagus. I really love asparagus, especially from the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings in brown paper bags, where they’re selling it by handing out fresh samples to snap into. Blanching it will make it more tender for the pizza, and then you won’t be trying to also cook it fully while it’s in the oven.
Toss your asparagus, woody ends removed, into a pan of boiling water for three minutes.
Remove and drain. Don’t they look vibrant?
I’m using some leftover bacon I had in the fridge. Ole had made too much when he was making sandwiches a few days earlier, and it’s been sitting around looking for a good place to land.
Chop it into tiny pieces.
Remove your crust from the oven.
Introduce it to your favorite Alfredo sauce, from scratch or out of a jar, whichever you happen to have.
Place the asparagus on the pizza. (In hindsight, chopping the asparagus into pieces would have made this easier to cut in the end because I wouldn’t have had to maneuver around the different spears while I was slicing.)
Sprinkle the bacon on.
Place a thin and loose layer of mozzarella on. We’ll be filling any holes with feta, so it’s not as important to create an encompassing layer here.
Sprinkle with feta and top with some extra asparagus if you like, and the pizza is ready for the oven.
Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the feta starts to brown lightly across the top.
And venture outside into the spring air to eat, especially if it’s a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll gaze over the perennial gardens in need of cleaning out and a raised bed garden that needs building and find a bit of motivation in your back pocket to actually tackle some of that after lunch.
And the crust? Worthy of eating to the edge. Crisp on the bottom, but still soft with a good texture all the way up and flavorful so that it can stand on its own.
1 package dry active yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh herbs or 2 tablespoons dried herbs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 cups flour
cornmeal for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and let sit for 5 minutes until frothy on surface. Stir to wet any dry particles. Mix in olive oil, herbs, garlic and salt. Slowly add flour a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to combine after each addition. When all flour is added, dough should be a very sticky ball.
Turn the dough out onto a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour.
Once dough has doubled in size, preheat oven to 400° F. Split dough into three portions. Place dough on a well-floured surface. Knead about 15 times in flour until dough is easy to handle. Place ball on cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet or pizza peel. Roll into a circle. Brush with olive oil.
Bake at 400° on cookie sheet or preheated baking stone for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with desired pizza toppings. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes more until cheese is bubbly and starts to brown.
For flatbread only, do not brush with olive oil before baking. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes until top starts to brown. Remove from oven. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and serve.
Makes (3) 16″ pizzas.
1/4 cup Alfredo sauce
1 small bunch asparagus
5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled/chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400° F. Work dough with flour until easy to handle. Place ball on cornmeal-dusted cookie sheet or pizza peel. Roll into a circle. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 400° on cookie sheet or preheated baking stone for 10 minutes. While crust is baking, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add asparagus spears and let blanch for 3 minutes. Remove from water and drain.
After pre-baking the crust for 10 minutes, remove from oven. Add alfredo sauce and spread evenly over crust. Top with whole or chopped asparagus pieces and crumbled bacon. Layer mozzarella slices and finish with feta cheese. Bake for an additional 15 minutes until cheese begins to evenly brown across the top. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
Makes (1) 16″ pizza.