I really love simple food. Sure, there’s a time and a place for complex meals, but that time is not during the week, and that place is [usually] not in my tiny apartment kitchen. This past Tuesday, I knew I needed to cook, because multiple recent impulse purchases had resulted in a stocked crisper. Yes, I impulse buy vegetables, because I’m a nerd about Spring and fresh produce. Fresh asparagus? I can put that in ANYTHING! Leeks? I love leeks! I’ll take four!
While both of these statements are true, because I DO put asparagus in everything, and I DO love leeks, my excitement blinded the rational part of my mind where I could have told myself, “Katie, you really don’t have time to cook this week.” Time shmime, I’d make it work.
Fortunately, leeks and asparagus go wonderfully together, and with a touch of lemon, some cheese, and simple seasoning, I had myself a completely delicious, perfect pizza in about 20 minutes. Sure, you need 2 hours for the dough to rise, but you can make it in under 10 minutes, then have it to use for 10 FULL DAYS with this recipe. 10 days of quick pizza at my disposal? That’s the kind of schedule I can work with.
Crispy Cornmeal Asparagus Flatbread
Crust adapted from “Cornmeal Olive Oil Dough” in Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.
Cornmeal Olive Oil Whole Wheat Dough:
Makes 4-6 pizzas. Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 10 days.
- 1 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 1/2 tablespoon yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Dab of honey or agave nectar
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
Enough for 1 pizza. Serves 1-2 probably, but just 1 if you’re me.
- 6-7 sprigs asparagus
- 3 medium-sized leeks
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 1-ounce fresh mozzarella
- Salt and Pepper to taste
MAKE AHEAD: Whisk together lukewarm water, yeast, salt, olive oil, and sweetener in a large (4-5 quart) bowl. Gradually add the flour and cornmeal, using a large spoon to start, and then digging in there with your hands. Do not knead; it’s not necessary and kind of a pain. Once it’s loosely combined, put a cover just barely over the top, so it’s not airtight at all. Let it rise for 2 hours, then store in the fridge, covered yet not airtight, for 10 days.
When you’re ready for pizza goodness, preheat your oven to 450-degrees, or 500 if you dare (I dared). If you have a pizza stone, let it preheat with the oven to ensure the crispest crust possible.
Rinse your asparagus, remove the tough ends, then set aside the rest.
Cut your leeks and THEN wash them well, so the water gets at the dirt between the layers.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil with the garlic in a fry pan over medium heat. Once you smell the garlic cooking, add the leeks and a light sprinkling of salt, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Squeeze on the lemon just as you see the leeks softening, which should be after 2-3 minutes. When the leeks are soft and brighter/yellower in color, you’re done.
Liberally cover a pizza peel (or whatever you’ll use to transfer the pizza to the oven) with cornmeal or flour (but really, you should use cornmeal). Grab a small handful of dough (slightly less than a fourth of the dough you have), and curl the ends over to form a ball. Use a rolling pin and your hands to create a 10-12-inch circle. It should be nice and thin.
Pour the remaining teaspoon of oil around the outer edge and brush so it coats the edges. Spoon on the leaks, then top with the mozzarella. Roll the asparagus in the oil that remains in the fry pan that held the leeks, then layer on top, along with a dusting of salt and pepper. Bake on a pizza stone or pizza pan for 7-9 minutes.
When the edges are a bit curled up and brown, take it out of the oven. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then slice away.
In that short oven time, your asparagus roasted, your cheese melted, AND your crust baked up all crisp. It’s like magic…food magic, which is the best kind.
The asparagus is tender, yet not limp, the leeks are buttery, and the sporadic pieces of mozzarella bring a creaminess to each slice, without being overwhelming or heavy.
…AND the crust. Where do I begin with the crust? This is one of the most flavorful pizza crusts I’ve ever eaten (btw, I ate the crap out of this). It’s just salty enough, super crisp yet somewhat chewy, and the richness of the olive oil makes this very thin crust taste decadent. The cornmeal, the star of the crust, brings extra texture without weighing down the dough, and a taste that makes the crust slightly reminiscent of a tortilla chip…
A really amazing, homemade tortilla chip, covered in goodies, of course…
See why I love simple food? Quick, healthy, and super yummy, with an added bonus of clearing out room in the fridge for additional impulse produce purchases. It is nearly berry season, you know…