I am a big fan of ‘mixing up’ traditional pizza dough.
Traditionally pizza is baked in a wood fired brick oven. This is so not only the top is exposed to heat, but so the bottom of the pizza is in direct contact with heat from below as well. Aforementioned method has formed the classic crust and breaded inside we have come to know and come to love. Nowadays, most people achieve that effect with a pizza stone in a normal oven – but for those of us who don’t have access to a pizza stone or a stone/wood oven, this is the perfect solution: A pizza that is easier to cook, more accessible, and just as tasty.
I’ve shared a recipe with polenta with you before, chunky polenta fries with viola salad. This one has an added benefit: it’s a gluten free alternative for pizza lovers.
Actually, you can use the polenta base to top with anything you like, from traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella to sprouting broccoli, spinach, and peppers. It’s completely up to you … have free reign – this recipe should be used as a base to be adapted to your liking!
Asparagus, Pea & Mozzarella Pizza
Crispy and soft texture, intense and subtle flavour, a perfect gluten free pizza.
- 110g polenta
- 1 bunch of asparagus, or maybe 10 sprouts
- 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 100g mozzarella
- 30g peas
- Chilli, Pepper and Parsley olive oil (to garnish)
- Add a slab of butter to the bottom of a small saucepan, add all your polenta and put the heat on full.
- Boil water in a kettle and add the water to the saucepan. The water should cover the polenta entirely and then a bit more.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir continuously while the polenta is boiling, until it reaches a smooth thick consistency. Add more water if needed.
- Line a tray with parchment paper or tinfoil (I used the latter, but I think it would be better with parchment paper), and pour your polenta into the tray. Season with more pepper if desired, drizzle with olive oil.
- Preheat your oven and place the polenta on the bottom shelf, with something covering the others. You want to brown the polenta before putting the toppings, but not cook it through completely. Alternatively, you can decorate the uncooked pizza base and cook it all together.
- While the polenta is browning, prepare the asparagus stalks by cutting off the bottoms, and then separating the tips from the stalks. Chop some of the stalks finely, and if desired, leave some for a shaved asparagus salad side. If not, use all.
- On high heat and intensive cooking, quickly boil asparagus until it still has some bite (if preparing shaved asparagus salad, set these aside to be used raw). If preferable, you can skip the boiling and have them grilled straight onto pizza, which is more nutritious.
- Remove polenta from the oven and then place toppings onto pizza; add sliced mozzarella, peas, and quartered tomatoes.
- Turn up the heat on your oven, move the polenta to next shelf, and cook until mozzarella has melted, asparagus is tender and polenta is crispy.
- I garnished with a drizzle of my own parsley, pepper and chilli flake olive oil. If without, just chop dried chilli (or use flakes), peppers, and parsley very thin, and marinate in oil or sprinkle as they are.
For a side of a fresh spring salad,
- Use a peeling tool to shave strips from the asparagus stalks. Add peas, a gentle squeeze of lemon, coarse salt and a dressing of your choice.
So, are you ready for a golden, buttery, crispy, cheesy pizza?
Granted, peas are an unusual pizza topping but let me tell you … it works. Invisage reworking a classic Italian side dish of light spring flavours from asparagus and peas, a margarita pizza with tangy tomatoes and melting, stringy, gooey cheese, and the classic polenta with cheese and pepper … and the combination is this pizza. The chilli and parsley garnish adds a pretty big kick – you can use basil instead for a more conservative, but none the less delicious, approach.
Asparagus is not just a succulent delicacy. Yes, the season for asparagus is eagerly await all year round … but it has more benefits than you think. It is low in calories and a particularly good source of Vitamin K, and also Vitamin B1 and B2 – known for helping blood sugar regulation. Anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant, the list goes on. So add some asparagus to your next pizza!