Culturally, pizza is considered a savory Italian dish that is made up of round, flat, leavened dough and topped with cheese and tomatoes. It is then baked in a wood-fired oven at a very high temperature. And, as we all know, it is highly delicious.
But while this definition of pizza dates back to the 10th century, the more modern versions of pizza are probably from Naples with variations becoming popular in many countries. So much so that pizza, in all its many forms, is now one of the most popular foods in the world, especially in the United States.
There are so many options and variations these days that it can be hard to think about what the purist version would even be. We have our choice of whole wheat crusts, cauliflower crusts, gluten-free, vegetarian, meat lovers, anchovies, olives, pepperoni, and even, to some people's horror, pineapple.
You can make your own dough or buy it frozen or fresh from lots of gourmet grocery stores and some supermarkets. Having a good, ready-made dough means that pizza can become a quick dinner option without having to order take-out.
There's also no need to think of pizza as a heavy, colder weather dish if we leave out the meat and sauce, keep the bread and cheese, and add seasonal vegetables.
Beautiful spring asparagus is a delicious topping on this particular pizza recipe. It's complemented by some good olive oil, a layer of creamy ricotta, some fresh mozzarella cheese, and a touch of Parmesan. Just pour a glass of crisp white wine and enjoy.
- 1 (10- to 12-ounce) ball pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded part-skim or whole milk)
- 8 asparagus spears (peeled and sliced)
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 1 cup baby arugula
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 500 F.
On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to about a 12-inch round. (You can also stretch it using your hands. Note that it does not need to be a perfect circle.)
Move the dough to the baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Spread on the ricotta cheese and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Wash and trim the woody ends off the asparagus before slicing. Spread the asparagus pieces over the ricotta cheese and finish by evenly spreading out the shredded mozzarella.
Reduce the oven temperature to 450 F and bake for approximately 12 minutes. (The dough should be cooked through and the cheese fully melted.)
Top with the baby arugula, a sprinkle of the crushed red pepper flakes and serve hot.
- Don't knead cold pizza dough straight from the fridge. Instead, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to use it so that it can come to room temperature. This will allow the gluten to relax and make it easier for you to stretch out into your desired shape.