What do you do when you have a weird assortment of ingredients in your pantry? We try to have frozen pizza crusts on hand so we can whip up something fun for dinner – no trip to the grocery store necessary!
In true JoyFoodly style, we always try to find a way to get a veggie into that pizza. A little protein doesn’t hurt either!
This spring, I developed an asparagus pizza for the Joyful 12 that is to-die-for delicious. We keep hearing from our Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab members that they’d love to know how to make substitutions, pairings, and gain ideas for when it makes sense to leave an ingredient out or add one in. Pizza is a great medium for this type of exploration. Let’s face it, if there’s cheese plus a nice crust, you really can’t go wrong with experimentation!
How to Substitute Ingredients
When I deviate in the kitchen, I start by thinking about why an ingredient is in the recipe in the first place. For example, in this pizza, I’ve added fresh tarragon into the ricotta cheese for a hint of fresh bright flavor. If I don’t have tarragon, another fresh herb could work: parsley, basil, or even thyme. However, if I don’t have any of those, the small amount of tarragon I’m using won’t wreck the recipe. I can just leave it out. How about the cheese? Could I try a sharper cheese than mozzarella? How about a nice Swiss cheese or Italian Taleggio? Why not?!
How to Add Protein
Often, I’m asked how to incorporate more protein into the veggie dishes I create. My husband and I often ask ourselves the same question! For this asparagus pizza, I’d love to share my easy adaptation, which starts with simply adding some ground turkey thigh meat. Why the thigh? It’s more juicy and delicious than the breast meat. My advice is to always go for flavor when it comes to eating well.
Here are my simple modifications to the Cheesy Asparagus Pizza recipe:
How I adapt the prep steps: sauté the onion with cut asparagus rounds instead of adding raw shaved asparagus to the pizza. Throw in one half pound ground turkey thigh meat, plus a teaspoon garlic powder, and sauté that with the asparagus and onions for ten minutes.
How I adapt the assembly steps: add the asparagus turkey sauté to your ricotta, black pepper, salt and tarragon mixture, along with the mozzarella on top, and you’ve got a meat and veggie packed pizza that’s just as delicious as the original.
Our advice in general when building new skills in the kitchen it to have fun, explore flavor combos based on what you already have in your pantry, and get your children involved as much as possible in the prep.
What kind of twist can you put on your pizza?
More pantry pizza ideas coming on Thursday.
- onion (yellow), 1/2
- olive oil, 2 TBS
- salt, 1 tsp
- black pepper, 1/4 tsp
- Pizza crust (We use Udi’s frozen gluten free crust)
- ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups
- mozzarella cheese, shredded, 1 cup
- tarragon (fresh) , 1 small bunch
- asparagus spears, 5
- Note on substitutions: we are using the Udi’s gluten free crust in this recipe. They come two pizzas per package. We love the asparagus pizza just as it is, but you could decorate the other pizza with other veggies or your favorite meat topping, plus the ricotta and onion mixture.
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Preheat oven to 500F. This will ensure a nice crispy crust when baking.
- Wash and dry asparagus.
- Dice ½ onion.
- Wash tarragon. Remove leaves from stems and chop roughly.
- Remove ricotta cheese from refrigerator and allow to soften slightly.
- Sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. You will mix it into the ricotta cheese.
- Using a vegetable peeler, place asparagus on a cutting board. Hold at the end, opposite the spear. Peel strips away from you, pressing down against the cutting board. The asparagus may break. Don’t worry! Peel as much as you can. Otherwise, you can cut the pieces into thin strips or rounds!
- Toss peeled asparagus in 1 tablespoon olive oil. This will keep it from burning in the oven and add flavor.
- In a bowl, mix ricotta, sautéed onion, and tarragon. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Spread ricotta onto pizza dough. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Lastly, top with shaved asparagus that’s been tossed in olive oil.
- Bake on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 500F.
- How I adapt the prep steps: sauté the onion with cut asparagus rounds instead of adding raw shaved asparagus to the pizza. Throw in one half pound ground turkey thigh meat, plus a teaspoon garlic powder, and sauté that with the asparagus and onions for ten minutes.
- How I adapt the assembly steps: add the asparagus turkey sauté to your ricotta, black pepper, salt and tarragon mixture, along with the mozzarella on top, and you’ve got a meat and veggie packed pizza that’s just as delicious as the original.