monterey jack asparagus pizza

what better way to start off Milk + Eggs + Chocolate than with one of my favorite things ever... pizza. I often tell my boyfriend, dlb, that if I were to do one more thing with my life, that I'd open a pizza shop/bakery. I love being experimental with pizza and throwing all sorts of unexpected things on top of it. I enjoy using all different types of cheese, rather than limiting myself to simply mozzarella. I also prefer to make my own dough and let it rise, though many pizza places will let you buy a round ball of dough. you can also find many perfectly good organic pre-made pizza crusts or doughs at the supermarket.
for this pizza, most of my inspiration was during my trip to the Farmer's Market last weekend. to be quite honest, pizza has become sort of a "fall back" dinner in our house. if nothing else, we usually have cheese, flour, yeast, and some sort of topping. so while browsing the food and flowers at the Farmer's Market, I asked dlb what he wanted for dinner. immediately, he replied pizza. so as soon as we bumped in to a massive pile of asparagus at one of the vendors, I instantly began thinking of a white pizza with long bright green stems of asparagus neatly arranged on top. that night, the Monterey Jack Asparagus Pizza was born.
and it was so good, I baked it the next night too.

Monterey Jack Asparagus Pizza
makes one 14" round pizza

pre-heat oven to 425˚

:: for dough ::
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 package rapid rise yeast
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup very hot water
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
extra white flour for dusting
1/8 cup semolina flour for bottom of crust

• whisk together white flour, yeast, and sea salt in a large bowl.
• mix honey and hot water together in a heat proof cup and pour into flour mixture. mix water with flour until smooth. pour wheat flour into mixture and mix until just blended.
• place dough onto a floured surface and knead until blended and soft, about 15-20 times. I tend to knead my dough until it "feels right", so after a few times creating this pizza dough, you'll know what I mean.
• form dough into a ball and cover with bowl. allow dough to rise at least 30 minutes.

:: for topping ::
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized shallot, about a 1/4 cup chopped
about 15 stems of asparagus
1 cup spinach
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese

• heat olive oil on medium heat in a heavy skillet. add shallots to skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
• snap the hard ends off of the asparagus by holding one side in your hand and gently pushing down on the other side until the stem naturally snaps. add to skillet and mix with shallots. cook for about 10 minutes, or until shallots are browned. separate asparagus and shallots in skillet so that adding them to the pizza is easiest.

• meanwhile, after dough has had enough time to rise, gently pick it up to make sure that none of the dough has stuck to your surface. spread out semolina onto your surface, then place the dough back in the center. carefully roll out the dough until it's about 1/4" thick.
• spread ricotta cheese evenly in center of dough, leaving about a 1" border on the outside.
• arrange spinach on top of ricotta.
• place asparagus stems artfully around pizza, concentrating on covering. sprinkle shallots on top.
• lastly, generously top pizza with Monterey jack cheese, making sure to cover all open spots.

Al's note: I find that when I bake pizzas that have heavier or larger toppings they are often difficult to transfer from the prep surface to the stone. for this pizza I used a baking sheet and prepared my pizza on the baking sheet for easy transfer.

• if using a pizza stone, place pizza directly onto the stone and bake for 10 minutes.
• if using a baking sheet, line with a sheet of parchment paper and cook for 15 minutes or until crust is golden.

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Blogger Fifi Flowers said...

YUMMM... looks fabulous!

May 6, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger a friend to knit with said...

guess what is going to be for dinner friday night!
this looks fabulous!
thank you!

May 6, 2008 at 8:08 PM  
Anonymous pia said...

i love fresh asparagus, and i love pizza! and cheese of course. this looks yum. i am waiting for the asparagus to come more into season (pricey at moment plus not so flavourful) and as soon as I get some I will try your recipe!

May 7, 2008 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger natalie blair said...

wow. i was wondering what i was going to make for dinner tonight... :) i can't wait to try it!

May 7, 2008 at 3:32 AM  
Blogger vQh said...

that looks so good!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing!

May 7, 2008 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger layersofmeaning said...


May 7, 2008 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger natalie blair said...

i made this last night and it was positively delightful! thank you so much for the recipe!

May 8, 2008 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Aran said...

Beautiful photo!!! Not only you have Unruly things but you also have this other gorgeous blog!!!

I am in the process of redesigning my header and although I am happy with the graphic designer I chose, I wish I would have found you sooner!

May 8, 2008 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Yummm! thank looks delicious.

May 8, 2008 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Tartelette said...

I was just wondering what kind of pizza to make tomorrow night!! Thanks for the inspiration!
BTW: I am emailing you about a new header...time to spruce up!!

May 8, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Tartelette said...

Looks like we were doing a cross post at the same time!!

May 8, 2008 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger mindy biancardi stoddart said...

Ooh! I can never find the right pizza crust recipe--I've tried at least 3. Can't wait to give it a try.

May 8, 2008 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

this looks so mouthwatering delish. i can tell i'm gonna like this blog. thanks for creating!!

May 8, 2008 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Peabody said...

Looks fantastic...very Spring like.

May 9, 2008 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger a friend to knit with said...

you know. this is my new favorite pizza. and crust. thank you!

June 4, 2008 at 7:13 PM  
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