Thursday, April 19, 2012

White Pizza with Ramps

This is recipe number 2 from our experiment with ramps.  And I have to say that this one was more successful than the first.  Alex actually said that this might just be the best white pizza he has ever eaten.  I was stunned.  If I am not mistaken, my response was something along the lines of "Really? Wow."  And then I think I looked at him dumbfounded.  But let me back up a few steps.  Yesterday I went to the farmers' market down at Union Square during my lunch break.  I was just poking around to see what vegetables were available, but when I saw the ramps I had a hard time resisting them.  And once I had them in my shopping bag I started thinking about pizza.  I was thinking about this pizza recipe from the new Jim Lahey cookbook we just bought - the bird's-nest pizza (a white pizza with asparagus and quail eggs).  I was going to just toss a few ramps in with that pizza and call it a day.  But then I started thinking that a white pizza would be a better way to feature the ramps.  So I found a recipe from Food & Wine by Tony Mantuano for a White Cheese Pizza with Ramps.  I used that as the base recipe, but used Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough recipe for the crust because he makes amazing breads and pizzas.  Plus we had the new cookbook so I had to try it out.  I have to say that the pizza was one of the best we have ever made at home.  Everything about it worked.  It had the perfect ratio of cheese to topping, the crust was delicious, and it cooked up like a dream.  And the flavor of the gentle, garlicky ramps was fantastic.  I was thinking about adding some crushed red pepper flakes, but I am so glad that I didn't because the pizza was perfect as is.  Man was it good.  I have to admit that I wasn't sure what all of the fuss was about with ramps in our first attempt at making them at home, but now I totally get it.  Yum.

Recipes after the jump!

White Pizza with Ramps

1 ball No-Knead Pizza Dough (see below)
12 ramps, thoroughly cleaned and white bulbs and leaves separated
evoo, for brushing
1 cup coarsely grated fresh mozzarella cheese (we used a nice ball of Lioni from Whole Foods)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Set a pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 500° for at least 30 minutes.

While the oven and stone warm up, shape the dough. Divide the dough into quarters on a generously floured work surface. Wrap three pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another time (or make more than one pizza). Fold the right side of the remaining dough ball toward the center. Repeat with the left side, then the top and then the bottom. Turn the ball seam-side down on the work surface. Cup your hands around the sides of the dough and press down toward the board and in a circular motion to shape it gently into a mound.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the white parts of the ramps and blanch for 30 seconds.  Add ramp leaves and blanch for another 30 seconds, until they are bright green but still al dente. Drain, rinse with cool water and pat dry. Cut the greens into 1-inch lengths and cut the whites (the bulbs) in half length-wise.  Set aside.

Press down on the dough to gently stretch it to a 6-to 8-inch-wide disk. Continue to massage and stretch the disk until it is 10 to 12 inches wide (don't be tempted to smooth out the bubbles and blisters-those are critical). Flour a pizza peel (or the back of an inverted cookie sheet) and carefully lift the dough onto the center of the peel.  Alternatively, you can place the dough directly onto the hot stone and apply the toppings quickly.

Brush the dough with evoo and sprinkle on the grated mozzarella. Scatter the blanched ramps over the mozzarella and season lightly with s&p. Sprinkle with parm-reg.

Slide the pizza from the peel onto the hot stone. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pizza crust is browned and crisp on the bottom. Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into wedges and serve right away.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough
My Pizza
By Jim Lahey

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 ½ cups water

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.

Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.

If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Note: Don’t freeze the dough, but you can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to three days. In effect, when you’re set to use it, you have your own ready-made dough.

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