The first time I saw this flavor combination, I thought it sounded really weird. But for some reason I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and give it a try. “Maybe this is just crazy enough to work,” I thought to myself as I put together my first asparagus mint hazelnut pizza. Obviously I was a big fan, otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it here. It has no sauce and not very much cheese, and combined with the mint and asparagus flavors that makes it really light and refreshing, and perfect for spring. After all, what could be more representative of spring than asparagus?
This pizza also happens to be quite locally produced. The asparagus is from Washington state, the hazelnuts were grown in Oregon (as are 99% in the US, whoa), and the mint is from my yard. Last year I started growing some asparagus in my garden, but you can’t harvest it for a couple of years, so next year hopefully I can make this pizza hyper-local.
Asparagus Mint Hazelnut Pizza
1 16-ounce ball of pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 pound asparagus (about 1/2 bunch)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped (no need to use toasted hazelnuts, as they’ll toast in the oven)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes. (If you’re using a pizza stone, preheat that, too.) If your pizza dough has been refrigerated, let it sit, covered, at room temperature for about the same amount of time.
Snap the tough ends off the asparagus. If you have thin spears you can use them whole, or sliced in half. For thicker spears, shave them with a vegetable peeler from base to tip. Toss with about a teaspoon of olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
When the dough and oven have come to temperature, place the dough on a lightly floured countertop, and press outward into a thick disk, leaving a 1-inch unpressed area around the edge. Pick up the disk and let it drape over the backs of your hands, letting gravity help you stretch it into a circle that fits your pan (about 14-inches). If the dough resists, let it relax for a few minutes, then try again. If you’re baking on a pizza stone, place the stretched dough on a peel, overturned baking sheet or cutting board that’s lightly dusted with semolina or other flour. Otherwise, just build the pizza on a baking sheet brushed with olive oil.
Scatter the mozzarella over the pizza, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge, then top with the asparagus. Scatter the hazelnuts and feta cheese over the top. If using a pizza stone, give the peel or sheet a little shake to loosen the pizza and make sure it hasn’t stuck, then open the oven and gently tip the pizza onto your preheated stone (or, if not using a stone, simply transfer the pizza to the oven).
Bake until the crust bubbles and browns and the asparagus is cooked and starting to caramelize at the edges, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Scatter the mint over the top, then slice and serve.