Asparagus is so good on pizza, I had to do it two ways this week. Sunday’s edition was for the asparagus purist — dough simply stretched and brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with red pepper flakes, then topped with mozzarella and fontina. The asparagus spears are cut in half, and the bottoms are cut into the thirds, the tips into halves. Arrange them in a circle, like the arms on a clock (you remember, before digital) and shower it with Parmigiano Reggiano when it comes out of the oven. Voila – a white pie with asparagus. Or in Italian, tre formaggio con asparagi.
I couldn’t stop there.
The next round, I stretched into a rectangle, flatbread style, again brushing with olive oil, topping it with mozzarella and fontina. Same deal with the asparagus, but arrange them like soldiers, shoulder to shoulder, across the dough. Dot the dough with 5-6 pitted kalamata olives and 12 Mama Lil’s hot pepper rings. Bake, then shower it with parm.
Where the asparagus-only version is on the mild side, this flatbread isn’t afraid of flavor. The kalamatas are salty, Mama Lil’s are spicy and you get a mild grassy greenness from the asparagus. Do we even need a recipe for this one?
There are two secrets here to getting a gorgeously browned, restaurant quality crust. The first one is cold-fermenting the dough in the fridge for a day or two after you make it. I swear by Kenji Lopez-Alt’s NY Style Pizza dough recipe, which I divide into thirds. And I make it often enough that I have the measurements committed to memory.
The second one, and this is a biggie, is the Baking Steel. It’s a game changer. My pizza stone sits in the bottom of my oven simply there to help regulate temperature, but it never gets used for pizza anymore. You want a crisp bottom, nothing conducts heat like a hunk of steel. You might see the price and think, “Well, I mean, I don’t know…” but it pays for itself in just a handful of pies. They don’t pay me to say this, I’m just a big fan. And we like pizza — a lot.
Asparagus, Kalamata & Mama Lil's FlatbreadPrint Recipe
- 1 dough ball from a batch of Kenji's NY Style pizza dough
- 5-6 medium asparagus spears, tough ends removed
- 1 c. grated dry mozzarella
- 1/2 c. grated fontina
- 5-6 pitted kalamata olives
- 12 Mama Lil's hot pepper rings
- 1 t. olive oil plus more for brushing
Take your dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for at least 1 hour before baking. At the same time, preheat Baking Steel at 500F.
To prepare the asparagus, cut each spear in half. Cut the bottoms of each spear into thirds vertically and cut the tips in half. The point is to still have pretty asparagus tips. Toss with 1 t. olive oil and season with salt.
Dust your pizza peel with cornmeal and flour. Stretch the dough into an 11 inch long rectangle. Brush the dough with olive oil and top with mozzarella and fontina. Arrange the asparagus vertically across the dough, like soldiers. At roughly 2 inch intervals, dot with kalamata olives. Top with Mama Lil's peppers.
Bake for 5-7 minutes until the crust is well-browned and cheese is starting to turn golden. Grate on Parmigiano Reggiano and cut into triangles, or squares to serve more people.