Asparagus, Ramps & Pistachio Dukkah
Caramelized ramps, grilled lemony asparagus, crumbled goat cheese, pear slices, pistachio dukkah (with toasted sesame seeds, cumin & coriander), fresh parsley, lemon zest
Springtime is my favorite time of year, and even though we live in Brooklyn now and don't have a backyard to grow all our vegetables, I still get excited about all of the green things popping up, wherever we can find them. So this pizza is very green. We found some early-season ramps at Mekelburg's so obviously we had to start there (see: all previous ramp pizzas for my never-too-cool-for-ramps feelings about ramps). And while I couldn't find the skinny baby asparagus I prefer, asparagus was still the next best spring green to add. The wild card here was the pears—I wasn't sure how they were going to go with the garlicky-oniony-lemony flavors we were building up, but turns out the tiny burst of sweetness really took it over the edge.
The *trend alert* of this pizza is the dukkah. I went from never hearing of it to seeing it all over the place, and since we can't get enough of Mediterranean spice mixes in this house, we had to give it a try. If you're not yet familiar, it's an Egyptian spice mix that varies in its ingredients, but is incredibly versatile. "Dukkah" means "to crush" or "to pound," and it's usually made by blending or crushing whole toasted seeds together, along with some nuts. I think hazelnuts are more typical, but we went with pistachio here, because: green.
1 ball of pizza dough
salt & pepper
flour for dusting
semolina flour for pizza stone
1 log of goat cheese, crumbled
1 pear, thinly sliced (we used Bartlett, but go with your favorite or whatever you have around)
1 small bunch asparargus (around 10), trimmed
1/2 lemon, intact with a pinch or two of zest reserved
~1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped
For the caramelized ramps:
1 tablespoon butter
1 bunch ramps*, bulbs (all the way up to the greens) trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces, leaves separated & roughly chopped
1 teaspoon parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
For the dukkah**:
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (we did about 1 tablespoon black seeds & 2 white), or around 25g
heaping 1/3 cup raw pistachios (or 50g), roughly chopped
1.5 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly crushed***
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly crushed
flaky sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
*If you can't find ramps, you can use the white parts of leeks (sliced 1/2-inch thick) in place of the bulbs, and just use more parsley in place of the greens. The parsley won't match the flavor of the greens but it will go well with the rest of the pizza.
**This will make a little more than you'll need for the pizza. Feel free to adjust and make less, though you'll have to really be careful not to burn your seeds while toasting them. Or, feel free to double it and have some around for snacking!
***We use a mortar & pestle to crush our spices, but you can use the bottom of a heavy mug or whatever else you have on hand. If you don't have whole seeds, feel free to substitute for ground coriander and cumin.
Preheat your grill or grill pan to medium. Next, melt your butter in a small pan over medium heat, then add the ramp bulbs. Turn the heat down to low and just let them slowly caramelize, stirring every once in a while. You're going to want to let them cook for about 20-30 minutes, until they're softened and nicely browned. When they're ready, deglaze the pan with your white wine vinegar, then stir in the parsley and ramp greens. Season with salt & pepper to taste and set aside, off the heat.
Meanwhile, toss your asparagus with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt & pepper. When the grill is hot, add the asparagus and cook until they have softened and have nice char marks on both sides. If you aren't getting those char marks, feel free to turn your grill up a bit. You can also add your lemon half to the grill, cut side down—when your asparagus are done, take them off and give them another little squeeze with the now-charred lemon (optional).
While your asparagus are cooking, preheat your oven to 550° F, or as hot as it will go. Now you can prepare your dukkah. Start by heating a small dry pan over medium heat, adding the mixed sesame seeds. Shake them frequently to prevent burning.
When the white seeds have started to turn golden, add your spices, cooking and stirring for another minute or so until fragrant and toasty. Take the mixture off the heat and add your pistachios, flaky sea salt & pepper. Stir them up and give them another couple pounds to crush them together.
Prepare your dough using the instructions on the right. Once you've baked it for a minute, take it out and brush it lightly with olive oil and top with an even layer of your crumbled goat cheese. Lay the pear slices evenly on top, followed by your ramps & asparagus. Sprinkle a few generous pinches of the dukkah mixture across the pizza and pop it in the oven.
Bake until the crust is a nice golden brown. Take it out, sprinkle with some extra dukkah if you like (optional), then add the parsley and a couple pinches of lemon zest. Now slice it up and enjoy!
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