While browsing the San Francisco Chronicle’s dining section the other day, I happened upon a review for Redd Wood, an “upscale pizzeria” in Napa Valley. Reading about “unattainable” pizzas and other restaurant dishes — hey, gluten — might be discouraging for some, but I always find inspiration. The description of their meat pie — topped with prosciutto, red onion, Taleggio and an egg — had me scribbling down a grocery list, throwing on my sneakers and heading out to the grocery store. (Fine, this may have happened over a period of two days, not two minutes, but you get the picture.) I had to make this pizza.
When, at last, the ingredients were gathered — mind you, for about the same price as one pizzeria pie — I set to work. Despite picking up an extra pack of shallots (in place of red onion), I
forgot about them until half of the pizzas were assembled and gobbled down (they weren’t missed) elected not to use them in order to let the other flavors to take center stage. The baked eggs made me a bit hesitant as I feared they would become rubbery and practically inedible by the time the pizza was cooked. However, much to my surprise and delight, they were a fitting over medium by the time the crust browned and lightly blistered, cheese oozed and asparagus softened. (If you prefer your eggs cooked more or less, I recommend poaching or frying them separately.)
If, like me, you cannot get enough asparagus this time of year, I highly recommend trying this pizza out. And certainly feel free to play around with the cheese. I ended up using St. André instead of Taleggio only because I was feeling too lazy that day to go to another grocery store besides Trader Joe’s (and it seems slightly easier to find). Your favorite, not-overly-ripened brie or one of the Cowgirl’s cheeses — I’m thinking of using some Mt Tam or St Pat for the next batch — should work just as well.
Oh, and if you make this for Mother’s Day brunch this Sunday, I’m absolutely certain you’ll earn some serious bonus points. Plus, it’s a heck of a lot easier (given everything cooks at the same time), yet far more elegant, to make than eggs benedict or toast/English muffins/waffles/pancakes with a side of eggs and bacon.
The Ultimate, Elegant Spring Pizza
Preparation Time: 2 1/2 hours, mostly inactive
Baking Time: 7 minutes each
Makes: 8 personal-size pizzas (count on 1 – 2 per person)
- 1 recipe gluten-free pizza dough (click here for the recipe)
- 12 ounces (3/4 pound or 340 grams) asparagus
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound or 227 grams) St. André, cut into 1/4″ slices and break into smaller pieces
- 8 thin slices (about 4 ounces or 113 grams) prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces
- 8 large eggs¹
- Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare dough according to directions.
DO AHEAD: Dough may be made and fully risen a day or two ahead of time. Once risen, transfer to fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
Assemble and Bake Pizzas:
About 15 minutes before the dough is ready, remove all but one rack from the oven. Place remaining rack on the lowest level, set a large, rimmed baking sheet upside down on top of it, and preheat to 500°F.
Trim and discard woody ends of the asparagus. Remove tips and halve lengthwise; toss with about 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon juice and set aside. Very carefully slice stalks — using a mandolin, peeler or knife — into thin ribbons; toss with remaining lemon juice and set aside (separately from tips).
Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces (about 3.5 ounces each); cover with a barely damp cloth to keep moist. Roll one ball of dough out on a clean, millet flour coated surface into a very thin, about 1/8″ thick, circle. To form crust, fold the outside edges (about 3/4″) in, press to seal and roll again until it’s just about flat (see photos below).
Transfer dough to a sheet of aluminum foil (crimp the edges of the foil, if desired). Top with 1/8 of the asparagus ribbons (1 ounce+). Avoiding the center 2″ (where the egg will go), arrange 1/8 of the cheese (1 ounce) and 1 torn slice prosciutto in the surrounding space; sprinkle with pepper. (Feel free to assemble all of pizzas to this point, proceed just before baking.) Crack egg in the center (pop any obvious bubbles and sprinkle with more pepper, if desired) and arrange some of the asparagus tip halves over top.
Place pizza(s)², aluminum foil and all, onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes or until crust is browned and egg whites are cooked through. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
¹ Preferably as fresh as you can get so they stay a bit more contained on the pizza. Please note that consuming raw or undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.