Shaved Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Fresh Ricotta Pizza

12 05 2012

Fresh ricotta is easy. Homemade pizza crust is easy. Deciding what to do with the sudden summer afternoons, made that much more languid when lunch is this simple, proves continually more difficult.

(if you’re me, the answer seems to be: go to neighborhood bar and blog. the windows are flung wide open and people seem in general stupefied by the heat; it is glorious.)

To be fair, the assembly today was streamlined by means of lovingly packaged leftovers from last night – but honestly, both of the time consuming elements here require very little hands-on prep work. The trickiest bit might have been shaving the asparagus stalks, which absolutely refuse to come out even. The choppy chaos ends up rather visually attractive in the end, though, and the snappiness left in some of the fatter slices provides pleasing textural crunch as a foil to the creamy pockets of lemony ricotta.

There’s also an intentional excess of minced garlic, a quick dash of red pepper flakes for soft heat, and the occasional sliver of salty sun-dried tomato from my prized jar of Cetara beauties. A proper dose of olive oil and black pepper ties everything together, and the wholesomeness of the whole wheat dough is balanced out by the playful interaction of fresh vegetable with cheese.

Helloooooo fledgling summer. I missed you so.

Fresh Homemade Ricotta
from smitten kitchen.

I changed the amounts based on what’s commonly available around Madrid. Basically you want to be adding lemon juice to near-boiling whole milk, with the option of adding in extra cream. The exact amounts don’t matter a great deal.

You should try your hand at making ricotta regardless of whether you put it on pizza. It’s sublime in salads, pasta dishes, spread on sandwiches, or alone on crusty bread sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil. Then there are all the sweet applications – in crepes with fruit and honey would be exceptional (raspberries, peaches…!).

1.5 L fresh whole milk
1 small box heavy cream (“nata para cocinar”) – optional according to Deb.
1/2 tsp salt
juice from 1-2 lemons (I used a whole one plus a half I had sitting around)

1. Bring milk, cream, and salt to just under a boil, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan.

2. Take off the heat and add lemon juice. Stir maybe once to incorporate, then let it rest for about five minutes.

3. Voila! The curd has separated from the whey*. Pour curds into awaiting strainer, lined with cheesecloth if you can find it, several layers of paper towels if you can’t. Sit strainer atop a bowl to catch whey drips.

4. It takes about two hours of draining to get to what I’d consider a properly thick consistency. At the end, I switched out the paper towels twice, which seemed to work a charm at drawing out final remnants of moisture.

5. Eat immediately, or store in airtight container in the fridge for a few days. I stirred grated lemon zest into mine.

*WHEY NOTE: That liquid is nutritious! In essence, it’s the isolated milk proteins, and is absolutely lovely for cooking pastas, using in place of water for baking, or even throwing into smoothies if that’s your bag. I used part of mine for the pizza dough.

Couldn’t Be Easier Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
from eat make read.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour (you can also use just all purpose flour if you like)
1/4 cup olive oil
pinch of sea salt
1 packet dry yeast/1 cube fresh yeast
2/3 cup lukewarm water – or fresh whey, if you’ve got it at hand!

1. Whisk the yeast into the water/whey and let proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, combine flour, olive oil and salt in a large bowl.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined – get your hands in there in the end and knead the dough until nicely homogenous.

4. When the dough is beautiful and smooth, take out of bowl and pour a small amount of olive oil in the bowl. Put the dough back in the bowl, then flip it to coat both sides. Place a towel/plastic wrap over the bowl and let dough rise, about 30-45 minutes. If you feel like it and have the time, punch it down and let it rise a second time – why not?

5. Preheat oven to super-duper hot – as hot as it will go, which on mine is 270C.

6. Roll out dough very thin on parchment paper – which I found will make two quite large pizzas. Reserve half for tomorrow in a ziploc in the fridge, if you like.

7. Pop dough in oven for 5-10 minutes, enough to develop a nice crustiness to it. It might puff up in the center, which looks funky but is easy to puncture and flatten.

8. Take crust out of oven and attractively arrange your toppings – which I’d recommend going light on, this ain’t no Chicago deep-dish – then let cook at slightly lower heat for a few minutes more, depending on what you’ve added and your personal taste. The asparagus/ricotta needs maybe five minutes to coalesce.

Shaved Asparagus, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Fresh Ricotta Pizza

1 pizza crust

1/2 bunch asparagus
4 sun-dried tomatoes, either packed in olive oil or reconstituted, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash red pepper flakes
piquant black pepper
good glug extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c fresh ricotta
crunchy sea salt

1. Shave asparagus with vegetable peeler. Don’t worry if it comes out uneven (it will). Toss with tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, olive oil to coat.

2. Arrange atop partially baked pizza crust. Daub with ricotta, sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Bake at perhaps 170C for perhaps 5 minutes – keep an eye on it, you want just the tips of the asparagus and the crests of the ricotta to brown.

3. Munch, maybe with a glass of chilled rosé.




One response

12 05 2012

Meatless Monday, here I come!

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