Springtime in Bavaria is Spargel season. What is Spargel? Its the white counterpart to the more commonly found green asparaus. As this white asparagus grows, soil is typically piled up around it to protect is from light, it therefore does not develop any colour. The stalks of spargel are fatter and juicier than those of green asparagus, but the flavour is very similar. Spargel season is relatively short, ~6 weeks in late spring, during which time road side stands and market stalls pop up all around Bavaria selling this very popular German springtime vegetable. Its also during spargel season that local restaurants showcase this vegetable with simple well prepared dishes such as “spargel in hollandaise sauce with ham”.
So I wondered if I could somehow incorporate this wonderful seasonal vegetable into some contemporary style baking. Of course, pizza! Spargel Pizza with ham.
In this recipe I maintained the classic pairing of spargel with ham, and then included some typical pizza add-ons but took real care that the spargel flavor would not be overpowered by any of the other toppings.
So, the pizza base for my spargel pizza in an easy to make yeast dough, with olive oil. The first topping of raw tomato-sundried tomato is an alternative to a tomato pizza sauce. Then fresh thyme leaves go on to provide a lovely mediterranean note to the pizza followed by a fine dusting of cheddar cheese. Then the stars of the pizza the ham and spargel. I finally topped the pizza with parmesan cheese to help balance the seasoning of the spargel.
Just imagine a sunny spring evening, al fresco dining, good wine and seasonal Spargel pizza.
Spargel pizza recipe
Ingredients for 2 med-large pizzas
For the dough;
320g warm water
10g instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
500g strong bread flour (550 german flour)
50g olive oil
For the topping;
250g fresh Spargel
3 ripe tomatoes
4-5 sundried tomatoes in oil (drained and blotted)
3 good sprigs fresh thyme
50g Ham (any kind you like)
100g finely grated cheddar cheese
50g grated parmesan.
- First, start on the pizza dough. Add the warm water, dried yeast and sugar into a large bowl and mix. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes.
- Add the flour, olive oil and salt to the water and yeast and then either knead with the dough hook of your electric mixer orby hand to 10 minutes. As always, if you are using a machine, finish off the kneading by hand for just a minute or tow with some big stretches and fold overs to fully develop the gluten. The dough should be elastic, smooth and silky.
- Form the dough into a tight ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising. Prepare the spargel. Using a vegetable peeler peel each spargel spear. Then place in a large saucepan, preferably so that the spears are standing up. Steam cook the spargel for just 5 minutes. For this I use a large pasta pan, with a little water in the bottom and cook on high heat with the lid firmly only on. After 5 minutes, transfer the spargel to icey water to immediately stop the cooking, then remove from the water and leave to fully cool.
- Then prepare the rest of your topping ingredients. Finely dice the fresh and sundried tomatoes and mix together in a bowl, set aside. Chop the ham into strips.
- Now preheat your oven to 250degrees with your baking stone, if you are using one.
- When the dough is doubled, turn it out onto your work surface and deflate.
Form into a ball and divide the dough into 2 equal pieces
- Using your fingertips press out the dough ball into a roughly flattened disk.
Then using a rolling pin, or by hand if you prefer, roll the dough into your pizza base, of no more than 5mm thick.
- After 30 minutes the dough will not look significantly risen, but that is OK it will rise beautifully in the oven.
- Now you are ready to assemble your spargel pizza. Start by brushing a little olive oil around the edges of the crust. Then lay on an even covering of the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with some thyme leaves. Now add some ~ 2 cm pieces of spargel, 12-14 pieces per pizza is plenty.
- Sprinkle a layer of cheddar cheese on top of the tomatoes and spargel pieces, then scatter over the strips of ham. Finish the pizza with some large pieces of Spargel and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
- Carefully transfer the pizza onto your pre-heated baking stone or sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 250 degrees. The dough should be puffed up with air pockets and the cheese nicely melted and browned.
So if you are looking for a new recipe idea for those lovely white spears of spring spargel, this Spargel pizza is great one to try. Enjoy!