Asparagus, Egg, and Herbed Ricotta Pizza

Recipe and photo contributed by Stephanie Deihl Yield:  2 servings (one small pizza)
Prep Time:  15 minutes Cook Time:  10 minutes

Asparagus, Egg, and Herbed Ricotta Pizza

This is a great pizza for a Sunday brunch. It also makes a hearty vegetarian dinner entrée. In general, pizza stones bake a superior crust, but this one is best baked in a rimmed baking sheet. The raw egg whites have a tendency to run off the side of the dough, and if there’s nothing to catch them, they’ll make a mess of the bottom of your oven. Allow enough time for the dough to come to room temperature before you start; it won’t roll out if it’s cold.

Ingredients

½ pound Basic Overnight Pizza Dough or store-bought pizza dough

½ cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

All-purpose flour for dusting

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and halved

8 stalks asparagus, woody ends removed, sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch pieces

4 eggs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup scallions sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch pieces, or finely chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bring up to room temperature on a floured surface, about 1 to 2 hours (see Kitchen Tip).
  2. Preheat the oven to 475°F and set a rack in the top third of the oven (see Kitchen Tip).
  3. Make the ricotta topping: In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, basil, thyme, zest, salt, and pepper.
  4. Flatten the dough into a disc with the palm of your hand. Flour your hands and curl them into fists. Lift the dough onto your fists as close to the edge of the dough as possible, and slowly rotate your fists in a circle around the edge, stretching the dough gently into a rectangular shape. Repeat the motion until the dough stretches to into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. The shape doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it fits into a 13- by 18-inch baking sheet. If the dough resists, let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes and try again.
  5. Generously flour the inside of a baking sheet. Place the dough on the baking sheet, and drizzle the olive oil onto the dough, spreading it evenly. Rub the cut halves of the garlic over the dough and top it with ricotta-herb mixture, spreading it evenly over the surface. Scatter the asparagus over the top in an even layer and place the pizza in the oven. Bake for 6 to 7 minutes, until the crust begins to brown and the asparagus is roasted slightly.
  6. While the pizza is baking, crack the eggs into 4 separate coffee cups or ramekins. Open the oven door and slide the rack toward you about one-third of the way. Being careful not to burn yourself on the oven, pour the eggs, one at a time, onto the pizza, spacing them out evenly, so that when you cut it into 4 pieces, each piece will have an egg. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper onto each yolk and return the pizza to the oven. Bake for an additional 3 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks are runny.
  7. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and the scallions or chives. Slice the pizza into 4 squares, cutting between the eggs, and serve.

Kitchen Tips

  1. A rimmed baking sheet works best for this recipe, because of the eggs, but if you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven when the oven is still cold. If you wait until the oven is hot, the stone may crack.
  2. From the Test Kitchen: The time it takes for the dough to come up to room temperature will vary depending on the air temperature. It might take as little as 20 minutes or as much as 2 hours.

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