The roasted red pepper sauce adds a distinctly Italian flair to this vegetarian pizza, a fun project for a meatless Monday meal. You can swap in other vegetables for the asparagus, like tomatoes, spinach and eggplant, throughout the year. The recipes for the dough and red pepper pesto make enough for two pizzas, so double the quantity of toppings and make two pies if you’re entertaining a crowd, or freeze half of the dough and pesto for later use.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Pizza with Red Pepper Pesto
For the pizza dough:
- 3 1/3 cups (17 oz./530 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) whole-wheat flour
- 1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) quick-rise yeast
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml) warm water (110°F/43°C), plus more as needed
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
For the red pepper pesto:
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the topping:
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) asparagus, ends trimmed
- 2 tsp. olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- 5 oz. (155 g) cold goat cheese
1. To make the pizza dough, in a food processor, combine the flours, yeast, sugar and salt. Pulse to mix the ingredients. With the motor running, add the water and olive oil in a steady stream, and then pulse until the dough comes together in a rough mass, about 12 seconds. If the dough does not form into a ball, sprinkle with 1 to 2 tsp. water and pulse again until a rough mass forms. Let the dough rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Process the dough again for 25 to 30 seconds, steadying the top of the food processor with one hand. The dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form into a smooth ball. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk and spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
3. While the dough rises, make the red pepper pesto: Using tongs or a large fork, hold 1 bell pepper at a time directly over the flame of a gas burner, or place directly on the grate. Roast, turning as needed, until blistered and charred black on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes total. (Alternatively, place the peppers under a preheated broiler, as close as possible to the heating element, and roast to char them on all sides, turning as needed.) Transfer the pepper to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and set aside to steam until cooled, about 20 minutes. Once cool, peel or rub away the charred skins, then seed the peppers and cut into chunks.
4. In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted peppers, garlic, walnuts, Parmesan and olive oil. Process until smooth. Stop the machine and taste the pesto; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, pulsing to mix. Set aside. (The pesto can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch it down, and shape into a smooth cylinder. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball, dusting with flour only if the dough becomes sticky. Cover both balls of dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes. If you are using only one ball of dough, place the second ball in a gallon-size sealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 months. (When ready to use, thaw the frozen dough for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.)
6. Place a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F (230°C). Once the oven has reached 450°F (230°C), let the stone continue heat for 15 to 30 minutes longer, without opening the door.
7. While the oven is heating, bring a saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook just until beginning to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and toss in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
8. On a floured pizza peel, stretch or roll out the pizza dough into a 12-inch (30-cm) oval. If the dough springs back, let it rest for about 10 minutes before continuing. Leaving a 1-inch (2.5-cm) border, spread the pesto over the dough and top with the mozzarella. Using your hands, crumble the goat cheese and distribute it evenly around the pizza. Arrange the asparagus spears evenly on top of the dough. Brush the outside edge of the dough with olive oil and season the whole pizza lightly with salt and pepper.
9. Carefully slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot stone in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Let cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve immediately. Serves 4.
For this and more ideas for pizza you’ll want to serve every night of the week, check out our new Pizza Night, by Kate McMillan