Saturday, February 18, 2012

Pizza with Leek asparagus and goat cheese

I love experimenting with different toppings for pizza's - mostly without cheese or used sparingly. Leeks and asparagus go great in a soup and on a pizza it was no different. The leeks are lightly sauteed and the asparagus is cut into long thin slivers. Topped with crumbled goat cheese, it was a light and refreshing combination reminding us of a summer evening though it was freezing last night.

The edges of my pizza are white because I did not brush it with olive oil before I placed the toppings, but in the recipe, I have corrected that. So, when you bake yours, you should have a nice golden crust.

Leek and asparagus pizza
6 large spears of asparagus
1 cup chopped leeks, white and light greens parts only
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
Salt to taste
3 oz fresh goat cheese
2 sprigs of thyme
Dough for one 10 inch by 6 inch rectangular pizza or similar (store bought or home made)

1.  Preheat the pizza stone for 20 minutes at  500 F. If you are using the pizza crisper instead of the stone, preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus spears and cut them into half. Then thinly slice the halves and keep aside.

3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat with olive oil and add chopped leeks and cook till they are very lightly brown at the edges.

4. Spread the pizza dough by hand or roll it on a lightly floured surface till it is 10 inches long and 6 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is bouncing back, let it rest for 5 minutes and continue to roll. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper and start assembling the pizza. First brush the dough lightly with olive oil (for the golden brown color when it bakes). Scatter the sauteed leeks, evenly over the dough followed by the asparagus slices.  Then remove the thyme leaves and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt about 1/4 teaspoon and some freshly ground black pepper. Crumble the goat cheese and spread all over the vegetables so that every slice gets some cheese.

5. Transfer the parchment paper with the assembled pizza to the pizza stone and reduce the oven temperature to 450 F. If you are using a pizza crisper this step is not required and you can directly assemble the pizza on the crisper and place the crisper on the middle rack of a 425 F oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on how crisp you want the pizza.

6. Remove the pizza with the parchment to a cutting board and let it cook for a few minutes allowing the cheese to set before you cut into it.

Yield: 4 large slices

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