Before we get into this spring vegetable flatbread pizza (which is delicious, by the way), let’s talk about the weather (because that’s what we do around here).
Let’s talk about spring, and how we’re halfway in and yet it hasn’t really felt spring-like. It’s been mostly rain and gloom. So, so much rain… seriously, If someone started building an ark, it wouldn’t take much convincing for me to get on it. After we survived that bleak and harsh winter (by Pacific Northwest standards), I think we were all hopeful for clear long sunny days ahead.
Similarly, I was excited about spring’s arrival so I could go to the market! Our beloved farm out in Richmond usually reopens its market for the season in spring, and we started a tradition last year.
We went by the farm the weekend it opened, walked around, hung out with chickens, goats, rabbits and other farm animals. We sat out on the patio afterwards and drank wine, and then we bought some mint, basil, chives, and cilantro, and selected the juiciest peppers, onions and other colourful fruits and vegetables. With the herbs, we made pesto and slathered it on a thinly rolled dough, we heaped on a ton of veggies and dubbed it a spring pizza, for its crisp airiness and fresh flavours.
I would have loved to pile a little more spring produce on this pizza; some sautéed leeks, asparagus, ramps, or perhaps peas, which is why I want to make this a tradition so I can switch things each year.
We’ll go by the farm this weekend. I have an idea for the type of pizza I want to make this time. I’ve been thinking of pesto made with slow roasted tomatoes and chives, and for the toppings I want to be inspired by whatever I find at the market but there’ll certainly be sautéed leeks, because I think it’ll be great on the pizza.
For this pizza, there’s a smattering of capers for that salty vinegary punch which I think compliments the herbaceous pesto, while peppers, onions and artichokes round up the mix of toppings for a delightful balance of crispy, tender and savoury.
A few notes on this pizza if you decide to make it, the dough can be prepared ahead of time, or better yet, use store-bought if you’re short on time. Same goes for the sauce – make it in advance, use up the pesto in the fridge, buy or make this herb pesto. For the toppings, feel free to use whatever spring produce inspires you at the market!
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105 - 115 degrees f.)
- 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (or “00” flour or half AP and half "00")
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups pesto or your favourite pizza sauce
- 1 – 2 cups thinly sliced onions
- 1 – 2 cups sliced bell peppers (I used a mix of red and yellow)
- 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts
- 1 tablespoon small capers, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Salt to taste
- In a large bowl, add water and sprinkle with yeast, let mixture sit and proof, until it dissolves and gets foamy, about 5 minutes
- Add oil and stir in sugar and salt
- Add flour and stir with a wooden spatula to form sticky dough
- Oil another large bowl lightly with olive oil and transfer dough to oiled bowl
- Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour
- Turn dough on to a lightly floured work-surface and knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic
- Divide dough into two equal pieces to make two pizzas
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Gently roll (use a rolling pin) and stretch dough on a lightly floured parchment paper until it’s about 1/8” thick
- Brush edge of dough with olive oil and spread a few tablespoons (or more) pesto over dough surface, leaving about 1-inch border
- Top with prepared vegetables and sprinkle with pepper flakes, dried oregano and or salt as desired
- Slide pizza with parchment paper onto a baking sheet and bake flatbread for 15 – 20 minutes until crust is crisp and browned lightly
- While pizza is baking, prepare second dough for baking or freeze for use at a later time
- Let pizza cool on wire rack for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a board, cut into slices and serve