Friday, August 7, 2009

Whole Wheat Pizza with Asparagus and Purple Potatoes

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What if I told you that you could make a decent pizza dough in less than half an hour? What if I told you that it would contain whole wheat flour and still retain that soft, bready quality that we all love about pizza? What if I told you that you could do all this from scratch and barely break a sweat while sipping on a glass of wine and nibbling on some cheese? You would laugh at me, right?

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And yet, such a thing does exist. I know, because I made it last night and it was delicious. You see, I've always wanted to make pizza at home, but when I come home at 7pm from a full day at work and A. is hovering around me hungrily, I just can't wait for two hours for the pizza dough to rise. I have a maximum of forty minutes to put dinner on the table before the natives start getting restless and for the sake of marital felicity, I try to keep within that time limit.

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This pizza has everything I really love about pizza - a thin, hearty crust that's sturdy enough to hold toppings and that has just the right bit of oven spring, a little bit of cheese that gets melty and toasted in the oven and fresh, flavorful toppings. Admittedly, this is not a gourmand's pizza, a pizza to compose sonnets about and to cherish as a secret recipe, but it's a "let's pop open a few beers after a hard day of work" pizza or "my boys just played two hours of soccer and are hungry" pizza, or really, just an easy and hassle-free meal that's versatile and very, very satisfying.

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Whole Wheat Pizza with Asparagus and Purple Potatoes

1 whole wheat pizza dough
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or half mozzarella, half gruyere)
half a bunch of asparagus (7-8 stalks)
about a cup of sliced potatoes (parboiled for 5 minutes)
1 tbsp rosemary

Quick whole wheat pizza dough
from Andrea's Recipes
[Note: this makes a thinnish crust pizza. If you want a thicker crust pizza, you do have to let this rise for an hour, gently let the air out, then rest on the counter for 20 minutes before rolling out]

1 scant cup whole-wheat flour (I put 1 cup minus 1 teaspoon)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast or 1 package quick-rising yeast
1 teaspoon salt (I used a little bit less)
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ cup hot water (approximately 115°F)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
coarse cornmeal, for sprinkling on the peel

In a large bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, salt and sugar, and whisk together. Combine hot water and oil in a measuring cup and pour slowly into the dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a slightly shaggy, sticky ball. The dough will be soft and warm. If it seems dry, add 1-2 tbsp of warm water and if it's too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp of flour.

Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and form into a ball, then knead for about five minutes until the dough is becoming smooth and elastic (it won't be completely smooth and elastic, but that's ok). Coat a sheet of plastic wrap with spray oil or cooking spray and cover the dough with it. Let the dough rest for 10-20 minutes before rolling.

Meanwhile, prep all your toppings, preheat the oven and prepare a pizza stone. I use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper on top of which I sprinkle some cornmeal.

Uncover the dough and lightly flour your surface and rolling pin. Flatten the dough with your palm and roll it out to the shape of your stone or baking sheet, rotating a quarter turn after every few rolls. Mine rolled out to about 1/4 inch thickness for a standard baking sheet and made a thinner crust pizza (but not completely thin crust). If you want a very thin crust pizza, divide the dough in half and make two.

Transfer to the pizza stone or baking sheet, sprinkle with cheese and then the toppings of your choice and set it in hot oven. Bake the way you usually bake pizza.

*Now, I know that the prevailing wisdom in pizza is to bake it at 500F for 10 minutes, but whether it's my technique or my oven, this never works for me. So, to get the soft crust and the crisp bottom that I love, I bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes and it works out well. You should bake the pizza the way you usually bake it.

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The Food Librarian said...

Delicious!!! This is beautiful and tasty!!!

Dewi said...

Irene dear, this got to be the most beautiful and delicious looking pizza I've ever seen. Love the purple spuds in there.

Unknown said...

I love pizzas that aren't smothered in red sauce. And the purple potatoes are great!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Your pizza looks amazing. I love potatoes on my of my favorite:)

Irene said...

Nicole, I actually don't like sauce at all (well, very rarely, maybe with deep dish Chicago pizza... mmmm...), so when I make pizza at home, I generally skip the sauce in favor of sliced tomatoes, onions or red peppers or a light swipe of pesto sauce.

Nutmeg Nanny - I just discovered potatoes on pizza very recently because I had some potatoes that needed to be used, and wow! I love it!

Michele said...

Your pizza looks fabulous!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I love the colors in this pizza!!!

Manggy said...

Can you believe I actually encountered this problem just last week?! I had to forgo the baking till 8 hours later (I like a slow fridge rise-- way too hot here!). The pizza looks just as fantastic!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

I love those purple potatoes. I've never tried a pizza dough with whole wheat. I have to say that this looks so yummy.

ChichaJo said...

The crust looks great...and love the combination of those purple potatoes and asparagus! Yum!

TheBicycle-Chef said...

What a great combination! I just got some purple potatoes this week and have been wanting to make a pizza too! Have you ever tried grilling pizza on an outdoor grill? It's easy and adds an even more interesting dimension of flavor. I have a recipe at my blog: Looking forward to reading more on your blog soon. Denine G. aka The Bicycle Chef

Patsyk said...

we love a thin crust, so I'll have to try this one! YUM!

veron said...

That pizza looks magnificent! And I love the colors!

Karine said...

I love the addition of purple potatoes! Your pizza looks yummy!

redmenace said...

gorgeous pizza. i have dough already brewing, but i'm late for soccer game. tomorrow, though.... you're making me hungry!

the twins said...

what a beautiful pizza!

Unknown said...

Irene, This is a gorgeous pizza! I love the idea of adding potatoes, and purple to boot. I am always looking for a great pizza. I am allergic to peppers and tomatoes, so pizza without is always hard to get right. Yum!

Katie said...

Looks delicious! The purple and green together is stunning