I call the middle roll on the right. Every spring for about the last six years I’ve watched this video of Mark Bittman making asparagus pesto (I just like his demeanor so much; the video of him grilling lobster is also strangely entertaining), but never take any action. I finally made the asparagus pesto a couple of weeks ago, and Bittman is right, you can eat this pesto by the spoonful, and it’s especially addictive served warm. One can happily eat this pesto on bread and crackers, as I did, but I was soon trying to think up a more worthy vehicle for this pesto, and pizza seemed like the most obvious option. And then I saw this recipe for pizza rolls, and I knew asparagus pesto pizza rolls had to happen sooner rather than later. I was really glad to discover that the idea of burying generous globs of vegetable pesto and even more cheese in some pizza dough had occurred to someone else as well, and promptly set to work. I want to eat asparagus pesto pizza rolls every day until asparagus go out of season.
Does anyone not dip their pizza crusts (or I guess the outer roll in this case) in ranch? I hope not. Salad dressing is one of those things that without exception tastes better if you make it yourself, and it’s nice to be able to make small batches of ranch because sometimes it’s hard to be civilized around an entire bottle.
Asparagus Pesto Pizza Rolls
Yields 18 rolls
For the Crust: No-Knead Pizza Dough
From Jim Lahey’s My Pizza
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. This will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 3 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.
For the Asparagus Pesto
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Yields about 1 1/2 cups.
About 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
1 clove garlic, or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil, or more as desired
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or to taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place asparagus segments on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and season with freshly ground pepper to taste. Place the garlic in a little aluminum foil packet and place on the same baking sheet. Roast the asparagus and garlic for about 10 minutes. Allow asparagus to cool until cool enough to handle.
Transfer the asparagus to a food processor along with the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and Parmesan. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse one last time.
Assembling the Pizza Rolls
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease and flour 18 cups of two muffin tins and set aside.
Place one of the pizza dough balls on a floured work surface. Work the dough into a rectangle of about 12 inches wide, 9 inches tall, and ½-inch thick.
Spread 1/3 of the asparagus pesto onto the dough, and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella to taste.
Starting from the bottom, tightly roll the dough from bottom to top. Slice into 6 even slices and carefully transfer to prepared muffin pan. Repeat with two remaining pizza dough balls.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until dough has risen, cheese is bubbling, and rolls are golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with freshly ground black pepper.
From The Pioneer Woman
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of real mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
Milk (to desired consistency)
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
A couple dashes of Tabasco
Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of salt onto the garlic. With a fork, mash the garlic and salt into a thick paste.
In a bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the milk. Stir. Add milk until you’ve reach the desired consistency. Taste and season as necessary. Chill for a couple hours before serving. Thin with milk when it comes out of the fridge if you like.