Summer Vegetables and Hummus Pizza
Hummus pizza breaks the traditional rules by using a garbanzo bean spread instead of the standard tomato sauce. I added some Mediterranean ingredients to keep the flavor fresh, such as asparagus, garlic, roasted red bell peppers and artichoke hearts.
It's the perfect recipe for a light summer meal; the few shavings of parmesan cheese is the only sinful ingredient in an otherwise very healthy pizza.
Yields: 61/2 cup water, warm
2 (14-grams) packages dry active yeast
1-1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon raw honey
6 tablespoons olive oil, extra for drizzling
1 cup ice cold water
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon corn meal
1 (15-ounces) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tahini, (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch cumin powder
1 teaspoon sumac (or paprika if not available)
1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
4 marinated artichokes in oil, quartered
1 roasted red bell pepper, sliced
1 dozen asparagus
1 chunk parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
2 pinches red chili flakes
1 tablespoon curly parlsey, finely chopped
For the garlic: In a small deep saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook until nicely golden. Transfer the garlic onto a plate and set aside.
For the hummus: Using a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, cumin powder, sumac, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Blend until a smooth puree is formed. Refrigerate. Let the hummus sit until the pizza dough is ready.
For the asparagus: Trim about 2 inches from the root. Cut the asparagus into 3-inch pieces. Blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes in boiling water then transfer into an ice bath. (Dip the heads of the asparagus for 2 minutes only). Drain thoroughly of all water, then pat dry on a paper towel. Do not overcook, as the asparagus would be soggy; it should be still tender and crisp and not mushy or you would have depleted all the healthy nutrients.
Enough dough for 2 pizzas: Warm up 1/2 cup of water. Using a thermometer, the temperature should be between 105°F to 120°F.
In a little bowl, place the yeast, add the honey then pour the warm water. Stir a little so the yeast dissolves and let it rest for 10-20 minutes.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Then mix all the flours, yeast, the remaining salt, garlic powder and cold water to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl, add the olive oil and knead the dough until it becomes smooth. Cover with a towel, place the bowl in a warm spot then let the yeast do its magic. You'll get a nice airy dough doubled in volume in about 2 hours.
A few hours later...
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Assembling the pizza: Punch the air bubbles of the dough. Form 2 disks using a rolling pin. I do not dust the dough with additional flour. It'll get heavy. I usually start rolling the dough between two sheets of wax paper then place my almost-shaped pizza on a pan. Dimple the dough with your fingers to shape the dough.
Meanwhile, place the pizza stone in the oven. Let the shaped pizza rest for another 15 minutes. It will increase in volume a little. Sprinkle some corn meal on the pizza stone. Transfer the pizza dough using a pizza peel to the hot pizza stone.
Bake for 10-11 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the oven. Spread the hummus evenly onto the dough. Sprinkle some sumac. Place the artichokes, garlic, roasted red bell peppers, asparagus and a little shaved parmesan. Broil the pizza for about 1-2 minutes.
Sprinkle more parmesan shavings and some red chili flakes. Garnish with parsley and drizzle a little olive oil (you can also used a chili-infused oil)
Using warm water in addition to honey will help the yeast to develop and get a good result. The warm water reactivates the yeast which consumes the sweetener and produces carbon dioxide, leavening the dough. Gluten, formed by kneading the dough, traps the carbon dioxide. You'll get a nice airy dough. Anyhow, that was the science lesson of the day. This reminds me of my years in lab class in high school...
I like to substitute the sugar with raw honey (thicker than regular honey) for the pizza dough, it'll bring a more dense soft texture to the bread pizza. It's also very good when you make a focaccia bread.
I like to brush even the edges of the pizza dough with a thin layer of tomato sauce, it'll give a much more appealing look to the pizza instead of a dull bread color.
I always use bread flour for its higher level in gluten. I use King Arthur bread flour.
You'll get a crisp pizza bread on the outside if you place you pizza at the lowest oven rack and use a pizza stone. The stone will distribute a more even heat and will absorb all humidity (if some tomato sauce drips). The crust will be nice and golden and the inside will be soft and chewy. Guaranteed! Do not cook the dough for more than 10-11 minutes. The bread won't be as soft.
Roasted bell peppers is pretty easy and inexpensive. Wash the bell pepper, pat dry, then brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove, then char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running tap water, the skin will come right off.
You can find sumac in any Indian store. The pinkish powder brings a pleasant, sour note to the hummus. It's usually used for basmati rice. Just add some ghee (Indian clarified butter) to the rice and sprinkle in some sumac powder. I think it's probably the Asian equivalent of soy sauce and butter with jasmine rice. Kids love this!
For more flavor, you can also grill the asparagus. Just follow the same procedure as my grilled vegetable platter.
You can make mini-pizzas and serve them as appetizers à la Wolfgang Puck as well. That's how they serve it at Spago. It's a great time-saver when you throw a buffet-style party.