Dinner

Fennel and asparagus pizza with no fuss crust

Consider this my love letter to pizza. Melted oozing mozzarella, slightly charred fennel, hidden salty salami and smooth tomato sauce.Β The extra beauty in this dish is the cheats crust. No rising, no knocking-back. No extra waiting time before pizza meets my mouth.

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Four simple ingredients and no time waiting is all our crust needs. Flour meets a liberal sprinkling of salt, while warm water and oil are our binding ingredients. We mixy mixy until our dough comes together and then knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth. Now at this I like to leave it on the counter to rest with the bowl turned upside down and placed on top.

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Look at our platter of loveliness. Freshly shaved asparagus which tastes like peas when eaten raw. If you’ve never tried raw asparagus it’s a must. Try and let me know! Next in our line up is lemon dressed fennel, creamy mozzarella and salty salami.

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Once we’ve pressed our pizza down into our sheet pan it’s time to start topping! A thick smear of tomato sauce goes on the base along with a heavy handed sprinkle of fennel seeds. Salami then gets folded on top until we physically can’t fit any more on our base. I’m that kinda pizza person.

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Then comes our buffalo mozzarella liberally peeled atop of our salami. Fennel slices which are lightly dressed in lemon juice and a smidge of extra virgin olive oil get piled on top, followed by the asparagus stalks. A healthy grinding of black pepper and we are ready for the oven.

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After 10-15 minutes in the oven we’re greeted with a golden brown crust, slightly charred fennel and melted cheese. Things are only made better with more melted cheese, so if you’re so inclined as I was, go grate on a fine dusting of parmesan on top. Finally we pile our finely shaved asparagus on top and dig in.

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Makes one large sheet pan sized pizza of amazingness

Ingredients

Pizza crust

1 large mug of plain flour

1/2 large mug of warm water

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon sunflower oil/extra virgin olive oil

Extra flour for dusting and polenta

Tomato base

1 cup of tomato pasta

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

salt and pepper

Toppings

8-10 slices of salami

1 ball mozzarella

1/2 fennel bulb finely sliced

5 asparagus spears, shaved

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1/2 Lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Steps

Pizza crust

Add the flour and salt into a large bowl and pour the oil on top. Pour the majority of the warm water into the bowl and mix together. If it looks a bit dry add some more water. Once the dough starts to come together tip onto a clean surface and knead until smooth.

Pizza sauce base

Pour the tomato pasata into a sauce pan and add the sliced garlic cloves along with salt and pepper. If using add in the chili flakes and leave to simmer to it slightly thickens, about 10-15 minutes.

Pizza assembly

1. Pre-heat the oven as hot as it will go. This will give us the crispest pizza base possible. Slice the fennel finely and dress in the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of olive oil and seasoning.

2. Sprinkle a sheet pan with flour and polenta to stop the base from sticking. Either roll the pizza dough so it fits the sheet pan or roughly shape and then press into place on the pan itself. Top with the tomato sauce, sprinkle the fennel seeds on top, lay over the salami and then tear the mozzarella all over the base. Shave the asparagus spears till there is a thin stalk left in the middle. Pile the shaved sections into a bowl and set aside.

3. Scatter the dressed fennel on top of the mozzarella and then place the asparagus spears on top. Finally grind over some fresh cracked pepper and place on the top shelf of the oven for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden. Leave the pizza to cool for 5 minutes to ensure any juices that come out of the mozzarella settle back into the tomato sauce.

4. Grate over a sprinkling of parmesan and pile on top the set aside shaved asparagus. Cut up and enjoy!

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