Over the summer I spent a month and a half wandering around Italia. While I devoted much of my appetite (and daily budget) to gelato, I was pleasantly surprised to find cheese-less pizza so easy to come by. While your classic cheesy and meaty slices were readily available, pizza bianca and pizza rosa (essentially plain and marinara-smothered focaccia) could also be purchased by the gram.
Many a lunch in Rome consisted of this golden bread accompanied by zucchini e pomodoro. I really miss the beautiful Italian countryside, the laid-back attitude of the people, and the summer bounty of produce on the farm at which I volunteered. But the best crisp, olive-oil-brushed pizza I have eaten is not quite 6,500 miles away. Serious Pie in the heart of Seattle serves up salt-crusted pizzas baked to perfection in a classic wood-fueled oven.
While I may not have duplicated this delight (lacking in critical components like a 600F and a pizza stone), I did attempt to mimic the flavorful and delicate crust as best I could. I also wanted to embrace the same appreciation for seasonal produce that I experienced on the farm, and that the Italians in general seem to have in great supply. This meant a farmers market excursion, and glorious young spring Walla Wallas and wonderous asparagus!
OK, I won't keep you waiting any longer. I've prepared two scrumptious pizzas based upon a focaccia crust. Note, this is not for the faint of heart. Like a true Italian (ok, half, but still…), I’ve used olive oil liberally – but it is quite necessary to obtain the lovely glow and crunch outer shell.
30 g sourdough start (100% saturation)
2 g dry active yeast
150 g warm water
50 g garbanzo bean flour
200 g all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
2 tbs olive oil
5 g salt
1. Mix started, 50 g warm water, and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly (yeast “activated”).
2. Combine with flours, olive oil, and salt. Mix, adding water until the dough comes together and is only slightly sticky (add more flour if necessary).
3. Let rise (lievito) for 1.5 hours in a warm-ish area (I like my microwave).
4. Follow steps below.
Pizza Bianca di Cipollini e Aglio
3 cloves garlic, sliced
6 baby walla walla onions, slices
3+ tbs olive oil
Salt, kosher flaked or coarse sea, to taste
Pizza Bianca con Asparagi e Limone
4-6 stems asparagus, halved and chopped
Zest of one lemon (reserve ¼ to garnish after baked)
3+ tbs olive oil (lemon scented would be lovely)
Salt, to taste
1. Divide dough between two well-oiled round pans. Flatten into the pans.
2. Brush liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
3. Add toppings. Brush again with olive oil.
4. Let ‘rest’ in your warm place (above oven while preheating?) for 15-30 minutes.
5. Bake at 425F for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden.Buon Appetito!