This recipe was lurking on the very last page of April’s issue of Cooking Light magazine. I almost didn’t see it. I’m so glad I was paying attention though, because “Pancetta, Mozezerella, and Asparagus” just call out to me, asking to be prepared together because they’d be delicious combined. Also, I had just purchased a baking stone so there was really no better recipe to test out the stone than this one. The stone was a success and so was this flatbread recipe. It turned into something more similar to pizza which I didn’t mind at all. The recipe in the magazine calls for the asparagus to be thinly sliced with a mandolin but I couldn’t be bothered with that, it seemed unnecessary so I just cut mine into bite sized pieces.
There’s something uniquely rewarding about making something nearly completely from scratch, especially if it involves dough. This recipe is no different. Although the dough does take some time, it is small in comparison to most dough recipes. Also this dough is surprisingly easy to handle, I felt like an Italian pizza man must feel when he confidently tosses the pizza dough into the air when I managed to coax my dough into a proud circle. Make this recipe before asparagus goes out of season! I think you’ll like it.
Taste: The flavor of the asparagus and the flatbread itself is enhanced with the saltiness of the pancetta and parmesan. The combination of ingredients is just delicious.
Texture: My flatbread ended up being more like a pizza. The crust was soft in the middle and crusty around the edges (especially if you use a baking stone in the oven), the asparagus chunks were tender, and the pancetta added a wonderful crunch.
Ease: Not the easiest recipe in the world since you are making your own crust but its one of the easiest doughs I’ve made and formed.
Appearance: Pizza is pizza and when does it not look like something you want to sink your teeth into?
Expense: Asparagus are in season so they’re cheap right now. A hunk of real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese can be expensive but it will last forever.
Pros: The flatbread held up in the fridge and reheated well in the oven. Plus this is a healthier take on pizza.
Cons: Since you are making scratch pizza dough it does take some time and patience but I think its worth it.
Would I make this again? For sure.
Flatbread with Pancetta, Mozzarella, and Asparagus
Yield: 8 servings
From Cooking Light April 2010
- 1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 6.7 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 cup very thinly vertically sliced asparagus
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Combine warm water and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 5.6 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt to yeast mixture; stir until blended. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 1.1 ounces (about 1/4 cup) flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (the dough will feel sticky).
2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add thyme, pancetta, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until pancetta is crisp. Stir in pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 475°.
5. Place a baking sheet in oven for 15 minutes to preheat. Punch dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Stretch dough into a 10-inch circle on a floured surface. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cornmeal on preheated baking sheet, and place dough on sheet. Spread pancetta mixture evenly over dough. Arrange thinly vertically sliced asparagus over pancetta mixture; sprinkle evenly with shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake flatbread at 475° for 10 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Cut flatbread into 8 wedges