An updated take on pizza for spring … fresh from the farmers market!
My kids, no surprise to anyone who knows my husband and I, are true night owls. The boy has suddenly become a voracious reader, thanks in great part to the Spirit Animal series he devoured over the past couple months. We’d just concluded our year in Hogwarts, reading the Harry Potter series aloud each night, and this was the first series he really got into reading on his own. Now, we have to pry the books out of his hand at least twice each night to get him to turn off the light and go to sleep. The upside of their pushing the limits on bedtime is that they tend to sleep in later, and we’ve reached that sweet spot of parenting where they don’t need our attention the second they wake up — at least on the weekends. On the downside, it means we were late getting to the market this past Sunday and my good mood at getting to sleep in was quickly turning sour at missing asparagus for the second week. After we made our other purchases and were walking out, I saw the vendor at the end had a huge cooler labeled “asparagus.” I leaned over to confirm it was, in fact, empty — only to have the vendor announce, “Oh, we still have some if you need it.” Hallelujah!
I’ve written before about the fickleness with which the foodie tots approach asparagus each year, alternately loving and hating it. A few weeks ago, we’d gotten some (non-local) asparagus in a veggie delivery from our dairy farm and the boy declared it one of his top favorite vegetables. The girl, however, is on an off-year with it. Likely thanks to Instagram, I had pizza on the mind and decided to make asparagus and egg pizzas. Not wanting to go back out just for pizza dough, I had the revolutionary idea to make it from scratch. I followed Mark Bittman’s Basic Pizza Dough recipe and am now completely embarrassed that I’ve never made it before. It came out perfectly, after just an hour to rise, and handled beautifully — so much better than store bought. (If you’ve already mastered this simple bit of kitchen alchemy, indulge me.) The dough comes together quickly in a food processor, no kneading necessary. It can be frozen, so I plan to make another batch ASAP to keep on hand and ready to pull out the next time a pizza craving strikes.
Now about the eggs. We only buy cage-free eggs from free-range chickens from local farmers. I’ve done the side-by-side comparison of grocery store eggs and local eggs, and the yolks are visibly, shockingly bright orange next to the bland yellow of grocery store eggs. Pastured eggs have nutrition benefits too — “2 1/2 times more omega-3s and twice the vitamin E in the eggs of pasture-raised hens,” according to a Pennsylvania State University study. And I will never believe that confined chickens are happier than chickens with access to fresh air, no matter what the Big Chicken industry would have your believe.
But when it comes to eating eggs, the male half of our family doesn’t like runny yolks, only scrambled. Thankfully the girl is coming around to my side, although that often means she’s swiping the yolk off my plate if I’m not careful.
Most of the egg-topped pizzas you see have the whole egg with runny yolk, but I knew that wouldn’t go over well. I was afraid the scrambled eggs would dry out in the oven, so I cooked them on the stove only until just beginning to set. For the kids’ pizzas, I put the eggs on the pizza before cooking — they came out well done but not dry. (The brown crust is from the parmiggiano on top.) For my and the husband’s pizza, I cooked it half-dressed (oil, cheese, asparagus, ramps and radish) for 10 minutes, then added his scrambled eggs and my whole egg to the already hot crust. After another 6 minutes, his eggs were still soft and my white was set.
And yes, the girl swiped a piece of my runny yolk pie.
For the recipe below, I’ve written it as prepared with scrambled eggs. If you want runny eggs, see the note at the end. I also added ramps, but I’ve omitted them from the recipe due to their fleeting availability. Thin slices of garlic or green onions will lend a similar flavor, if desired. (I plan to make this again with garlic scapes, when they’re available.) I also added a few thin slices of an early radish from our garden.
Recipe: Asparagus and Egg Pizza
Makes: 3 personal-sized pizzas, or 2 regular
- 1 batch pizza dough (“Basic Pizza Dough” recipe)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound asparagus
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- sea salt and pepper
1. Prepare pizza crust as instructed. Divide dough into 2 or 3 balls and set aside to rest while preparing toppings.
2. Preheat oven (and pizza stone, if using) to 450 degrees.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Wash asparagus and trim ends. Cut into about 2-inch pieces. Prepare a separate bowl half full with ice and water. When water boils, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and asparagus and cook for 2 minutes. Immediately remove asparagus and place into ice water for a minute, then drain and set aside.
4. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium low heat. Add eggs and half and half (or milk) and whisk together. Cook, stirring frequently, until eggs just begin to thicken. Turn off heat.
5. Roll out pizza crusts and place on baking sheet or parchment paper. Brush each with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a base layer of parmigiano cheese. Spoon scrambled eggs around the pizza, then arrange asparagus over. Sprinkle with another generous dose of cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
6. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until crust is golden and eggs are thoroughly cooked (will be firm to the touch.)
Note: To make with whole, runny eggs, skip step 4. Prepare pizzas and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully crack eggs onto the pizza (it helps contain the whites if you push asparagus to make a border on two sides). Return to oven and bake another 5 to 6 minutes, until eggs are white and mostly firm.