Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto Pizza

This past week at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market, Sweetwater Farm offered garlic scapes. These fleeting spring treats are delicious ground up into a pungent pesto. The punch of the garlic flavor will vary with the scapes, from subtle to powerful, depending on their age and thickness. For hefty scapes, you can temper the garlic flavor by sauteing them first in a little olive oil before pureeing them, or you can bake the pesto afterwards on a pizza. 

We dolloped our garlic scape pesto on whole wheat pizza dough and topped them with spring vegetables: sauteed asparagus spears on one and sauteed zucchini slices with diced ham on another. This pungent green paste would serve as a delicious backdrop as well to any number of summer or fall vegetables (cherry tomatoes, peppers, cubed squash), so if you get a chance, freeze some garlic scape pesto for later in the season. 

Garlic Scape Pesto Pizza
makes two medium pizzas

garlic scape pesto
1 bunch garlic scapes
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste

pizza dough
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup medium or course ground corn meal
2 cups all purpose white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used red fife from Lonesome Whistle Farm)

topping suggestions
~4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
~4 ounces crumbled feta cheese 
sauteed asparagus spears
sauteed zucchini and diced ham

1.  At least two and a half hours ahead, prepare the pizza dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix the yeast and 1/4 cup warm water and allow to sit for a few minutes until it foams up. Mix in the olive oil, salt, and corn meal. Mix in the remaining ingredients, alternating between the flour and water. You may need a little more or less of the water or flour, depending on ambient moisture. When combined, turn the dough onto a work surface (I like to use a large silicone mat for easy clean up) and knead for several minutes until the dough is satisfyingly elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, or if using, loosely wrap the dough in the silicone mat and transfer it right back into the dough mixing bowl. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk for a coupe of hours. You can also make this dough in the morning and let it rise in the refrigerator during the day and it will be ready at dinnertime.

2. Prepare the garlic scape pesto. In a toaster oven or on the stovetop in a dry skillet, toast the almonds until fragrant. Place in a food processor. Coarsely chop the garlic scapes and add these to the food processor, as well as the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Process until you have a fairly smooth, bright green paste. Taste and add more salt or olive oil as desired. Reserve.

3. Prepare toppings. Snap the hard ends off the asparagus spears and cut into 1 inch long pieces. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add a splash of olive oil and saute the asparagus with a pinch of salt for a few minutes until they are bright green and have started to soften. Reserve. Slice the zucchini in half moons and dice ham. Saute together with a little olive oil until the zucchini have just started to brown. Reserve. Dice the feta cheese and slice the mozzarella.

4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and insert a pizza stone if you wish. Divide the dough in half and roll out two pizzas, each about 10 by 14 inches. If using a pizza stone, assemble the pizza on a peel, or assemble it on a baking sheet sprinkled with some coarse corn meal. Spread half the pesto over one of the pizzas, then top with the asparagus and half of the cheese. Repeat with the second pizza, using the zucchini and ham. If using a pizza stone, carefully slide the pizza from the peel onto the stone. Bake the pizza for about 12 minutes until the crust sounds hard when tapped and the cheese has started to brown. Serve at once. 

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