Ingredient of the month: Asparagus (plus pizza, paired with wine)

I can’t let May slip past without paying tribute to my favourite vegetable, asparagus. With such a short seasonal lifespan the time you have to experiment with this wonderful versatile vegetable is limited. Not only does it work well in a prawn risotto, but the long green spears also make great soldiers, ideal for dipping in boiled eggs.

However inspired by a recent visit to the new Pizza Express in Edinburgh’s Morningside, to mark the launch of the chains new BYOW (Bring Your Own Wine Sundays) I also think it makes for a great alternative topping for my guilty pleasure, pizza. Paired with a nice glass of cold Chardonnay it’s a real treat any day of the week.

Asparagus Pizza

  1. Pre heat your oven to 180C.
  2. For the dough you will need to sift 400g of strong white bread flour into a bowl, along with a 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of sugar and two tsp. of olive oil. Mix all the ingredients together and make a well in the middle.
  3. Mix 15g of dried yeast with a little warm water and add this to the mixture, along with 280ml of warm water. Mix everything together until a dough forms. Feel free to add a little more flour if the mixture is a little wet.
  4. Using your hands knead the dough for 10minutes, place in an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.
  5. Divide the dough in to two balls and roll each ball out using a rolling pin to create your pizza base.
  6. For the topping spread 2tbsp. of pesto on top as your base coat, then add a ball of mozzarella thinly sliced, as well as a handful of sundried tomatoes roughly chopped. Having steamed your asparagus beforehand, place four spears on each pizza and finish with a handful of parmesan  cheese on top.
  7. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 180C. Serve with your favourite wine!

Creating your own pizza is time consuming, but the results are satisfying. However if time is precious and you want to stretch out your weekends a little longer, for those in Edinburgh head to Pizza Express after 6pm on a Sunday armed with your favourite wine. In a first for the pioneer of casual dining, Pizza Express is following in the footsteps of a burgeoning Australian trend, which has also begun to hit top restaurants in Paris and London. “Open House”, will run across Edinburgh chains until 30 July and what’s more there is no corkage charge. The charismatic Adrian Garforth, Master of Wine and consultant to Pizza Express has also selected a range of wines which will pair perfectly with Pizza Express’s menu. So when you arrive with a bottle of your favourite tipple you will be sure to find a pizza that will match your chosen wine, helping to bring out the flavours of your favourite topping. A fun filled Sunday evening awaits, if you don’t fancy doing the dishes!

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