Sometimes only a slice of pizza really hits the spot and couscous salad or polenta baskets just won’t cut it – I need carbs! Asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes along with the first of the peas and bunches of spring onions all called to me as I wandered around our veg shop on Monday and this Spring Vegetable Pizza is where they ended up!
Ninety nine times out of a hundred my pizzas will be found slathered in sauce – tomato or green pesto are my faves – but I do love a pizza bianca and I wanted the subtle flavours of these glorious vegetables to shine.
I scattered spring onions and peas over my freshly made bases, finely sliced the Jersey Royal potatoes before frying them in olive oil with garlic, thyme and black pepper. The asparagus spears were halved lengthways and laid gently on top of the peas, onions and potatoes and the whole lot was topped with handfuls of torn mozzarella, a grinding of black pepper and freshly grated vegetarian parmesan cheese.
You can make this with bought pizza bases but on this day I wanted the smell of bread rising to permeate my kitchen, I wanted to deflate the pillow of dough with my fingers and to roll it out into generous circles. This is the sort of recipe which gives me time to think and space to just be – it satisfies all my senses from the feel of the dough, to the smell of the garlic and the sizzling sounds from my pan. I think it looks beautiful and it certainly tastes fabulous!
I should’ve taken more photos of it, sliced and oozing cheese, but I just ate it instead! We sat at the table with beer and spring vegetable pizza and it was good.
My pizza base recipe is based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s magic bread in his book ‘Veg Every Day’ – it works every time and pops up as dinner rolls, garlicky flatbread and pittas if it’s not destined to be pizzas. This is enough dough to make three pizzas, you can halve it or double it if you want to make more or you can freeze any leftover dough to use at a later date. I used the dough hook in my Kitchen Aid to make the dough rather than kneading it by hand because I was having a lazy dreamy sort of a day but if you want the full ‘I’m a brilliant Baker’ experience do bung all the dry stuff in a bowl, add the liquid, bring it all together and then knead away for ten minutes!
Spring Vegetable Pizza with Asparagus and Jersey Royals
For the Pizza Bases
- 250 g plain flour
- 250 g strong white bread flour
- 1 tsp instant dried yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus more to oil the bowl
- 325 ml warm water
For the Topping
- 300 g Jersey Royal potatoes scrubbed and finely sliced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
- 3 tsps fresh thyme finely chopped (you could use marjoram or oregano instead to ring the changes)
- 9 spring onions scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
- 12 asparagus spears woody ends snapped off, sliced in half lengthways
- 3/4 cup of fresh or frozen peas defrosted
- 150 g mozzarella cheese torn into small pieces
- 75 g vegetarian parmesan cheese grated
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
- Put the flours, yeast and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Add the tablespoonful of olive oil and the warm water (not too hot, it needs to be on the warm side of tepid).
- Mix together on low speed so you don't spray your kitchen with flour and water.
- Increase the speed slightly when a dough has formed and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Wipe a clean bowl with a little olive oil, pop your dough into it and roll it in the oil to coat.
- Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours).
- Preheat your oven to 220C or 430F.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and poke it with your fingers so it shrinks back again.
- Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Roll each ball out into a thin circle.
- Dust 3 pizza stones or baking sheets with a little flour and put your dough bases on them - you will get a crisper base if you can heat the bases up first and then put your pizzas on them but that can be a juggle so I'll leave that decision up to you!
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the potato slices and fry until lightly browned on each side.
- Add tbsp water, cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
- Remove the lid and boil off any liquid which may be left.
- Add your chopped garlic and thyme plus a generous grinding of black pepper and cook for a further minute.
- Scatter each base with a third of the onions, a third of the peas, a third of the potatoes and a third of the asparagus spears.
- Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to the frying pan and stir to collect all the left over garlic and thyme.
- Sprinkle a third of the mozzarella and a third of the parmesan over each pizza.
- Drizzle with the garlic and herb oil.
- Cook in your preheated oven of 10 - 15 minutes until the bases are browning and the cheese is bubbling.