Pizza bel paese
This classic and popular pizza is made with Bel Paese (beautiful country) cheese, prosciutto di Parma, and fresh asparagus that have been roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice. The cheese is arranged over the dough and then the prosciutto and asparagus are laid out on top like spokes on a wheel. Placed two fresh basil leaves in the center of the pizza just before it is served.
Portions: Make one 9-inch pizza; serves 1 or 2
- 5 spears asparagus, touch end removed, peeled
- 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 portion (9-5 ounces) Neapolitan pizza dough at room temperature
- Caputo flour for dusting
- 2 ounces Bel Paese cheese, cut into six 1/4 inch thick slices
- 5 thin slices (about 2 ounces) prosciutto di Parma
- 2 large fresh basil leaves
Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and place a baking stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Have ready a pizza peel. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer in a small baking dish or ovenproof skillet. Drizzle 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil and the lemon juice over the top. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast until crisptender and nicely browned at the tips, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Remove the dough from the plastic bag, keeping the smooth top side facing up. Place it on a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust the dough with flour. Using your fingertips (but not your nails), press down on the dough to flatten it and push it outward into a larger circle. Flip the dough over and repeat on the other side, and then flip the dough back over. (You always want the smooth side up). Thinking of the circle of dough as a clock face, make a fist with your left hand and place it firmly at the 9 o’clock position, about 1 inch in from the edge (this will keep the edge of the dough slightly thicker). Place your right hand at the 3 o’clock position, putting your thumb on top of the dough and your other fingers underneath. Lift the dough and stretch it a bit. Move the dough a one-eighth turn and repeat. Continue until you have evenly stretched the dough into a 9-inch circle with slightly thicker edges. Dust the pizza peel generously with flour. Using your hands and working quickly, lift and transfer the dough to the pizza peel. Give the peel a few shakes back and forth to make sure the dough isn’t sticking. To top the pizza: Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange the slices of cheese in a single layer over the top. Arrange the asparagus like the spokes of a wheel evenly around the pizza. Arrange a slice of prosciutto between each asparagus spear; drape the prosciutto so it curves rather than laying it perfectly flat. Give the peel another gentle shake back and forth just to make sure the dough isn’t sticking. Slide the dough from the peel onto the baking stone using a quick jerking motion with your arm. (Work quickly to slide the pizza into the oven and close the door so the oven temperature doesn’t drop too much). Bake the pizza until the crust is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using the peel, remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Place the basil leaves in the center of the pizza. Slice the pizza into wedges, or leave whole to be eaten folded in quarters, and serve immediately.