Happy Meatless Monday! (You don’t have to make this on a Monday exclusively. And if you really want meat I think prosciutto would complement the flavors well.)
Moving to the UK I did have some stereotypes about the food. Not that it would be bad (in fact it’s quite good), but that some stuff wouldn’t be the same (and might be a little bad): Chinese food, Mexican food, pizza. So far two of those three stereotypes have panned out to be accurate. But the pizza over here is a little bit hard to classify into ‘good’ or ‘bad’. There are a lot of casual dining restaurants & trattorias with good individual pizzas. But takeaway pizza is pretty poor (Dominoes is the best of the bunch, most of the other options come from kebab shops). So unless we are going to spend £25, we will be making it ourselves if we want to have it on a regular basis. But to be honest, we mostly made our own pizza back in the states (unless we were with a group, or were really craving a Buffalo Chicken pizza).
In the states I usually bought the ready made pizza dough in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, and was happy with it. Over here I haven’t found that to be available, so I use a dough that comes from this blog. Since I didn’t change any part of the recipe I won’t recreate it here. The only slight change I have is to the instructions; at the end divide the dough into three portions instead of two. Also, I loosely wrap the dough in cling film and then place it in a Ziploc freezer bag. The dough will defrost in the fridge in about 6 hours, or two hours on the counter top. Once my husband saw the dough in the freezer (ready for use), he asked if we were having pizza every night for dinner until I made it (I’m starting to think that he is a little more pizza starved over here than I thought.)
I originally used fontina cheese for this pizza, but I haven’t been able to find that in the supermarkets here so this time I used emmental, but I think any kind of non sharp, kind of nutty, cheese would work (gouda, gruyere, edam, etc.). Also, the amount a cheese is entirely your choice. In preparing this recipe I shredded to much (looks like cheese toast for breakfast for a few days), but I adjusted it for what is printed below.
I like a thin crispy, chewy crust; which is why I would either buy the ready made dough or make my own, instead of using the boxed mixes in the aisle next to the cake mixes (though those mixes aren’t bad if you are going for a Sicilian style square pizza). I also use a pizza stone to achieve a crispy texture. However, today I discovered that my pizza stone does not fit in my oven. (This realization coming only a few days after learning that my large cookie sheet – essential for the mass production of baked goods – doesn’t fit either.) My stove/oven isn’t small (it has 5 burners), but it is narrow (I think even by UK standards). Therefore, I have acquired a new piece of kitchen equipment: a pizza pan. This much to my husband’s dismay as we spent a lot of our time prior to our move to the UK, downsizing our (my) kitchen supplies and I think he is worried that I’m going to start collecting again (that sounds a little serial killer-ish). But at £2, and in the name of good pizza the pan was worth it. I used it in the inverted position in the oven so that the edges weren’t blocked by metal and the hot air in the oven was able to circulate uninterrupted.
The finished product (despite the changes and substitutions I made) was quite good and my husband said it tasted just like it did originally; foregoing dessert for an extra slice. (He also claimed two of the remaining three slices for his breakfast.) The new pizza pan and the homemade dough gave me the crispy, chewy crust I was hoping for. My husband is still going to to try to scour the old pizza stone and cut it to fit the oven (like you would if you were to lay tiles on for a bathroom floor), but I think that is more of an intellectual exercise for him.
Here is what you will need:
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a non-stick pan with the oil over medium-low heat and slice the onions:
Add onions to the pan and stir to coat. Caramelize the onions over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. I like to cover the pan to keep in the moisture, and if the pan starts to dry out and it looks like onions are starting to fry instead of caramelize add a little water. [I know, I know this takes a while but if you want caramelized onions there is no other way to do it. Any recipe that says you can caramelize onions in 5 minutes is lying to you.]
Slice asparagus. First, start by trimming off the woody ends and discard. Then trim the top third off and slice in half lengthwise. Quarter the rest of the stems lengthwise.
Place asparagus in a bowl and toss with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and teaspoon of salt. This will ‘cook’ the asparagus and make it more pliable before it goes on the pizza.
Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C) and grate cheese.
Now it is time to assemble the pizzas. Divide the pizza dough in half and roll out on a floured surface.
Spread caramelized onions on the dough and lightly sprinkle with cheese.
Add asparagus and top with remaining cheese.
Bake 10-12 minutes in oven.
Recipe – makes two small pizzas serves 2-4 people
- 1lb (400g) of prepared pizza dough
- 4 medium onions
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil (divided)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 large bunch of asperagus
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 6 oz (350g) of emmental cheese [or fontina]
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat (not try to speed this part up). While butter is melting thinly slice the onions. Once butter is melted add onions and stir to coat. Caramelize onions on medium-low heat (I keep them covered to keep in moisture) stirring frequently for 30 minutes, until a rich brown. If pan gets dry add a little water. [This will be the ‘sauce’ for your pizza.]
- While the onions are cooking, slice the asparagus. Chop off the woody ends and discard. Cut off the top third of the asparagus (the part with the floret), and then slice that part in half. Quarter lengthwise the rest of the stalk.
- Place the sliced asparagus in a bowl toss with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and salt. Allow to sit until the onions are caramelized.
- Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C).
- Shred cheese with a box grater.
- Assemble the pizzas:
- Divide pizza dough into two equal portions. And roll out on a floured work surface.
- Spread the caramelized onions on each dough circle.
- Lightly sprinkle each with cheese.
- Top each with asparagus (lightly press down onto dough).
- Top with the remaining cheese.
- Place in oven on your choice of tray (cookie sheet, pizza pan, pizza stone).
- Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Serve as individual pizzas or quarter pizzas and serve two slices each with a side salad. (The side salad advice applies to both size pizza portions – it is important you get your 5 A Day!)