Spicy Turkey, Leek and Asparagus Pizza
Today I want to know—what brings you joy? This week for me, it’s the return of the outdoor Madison Farmers Market, triumphant singing, and Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza.
Joy is not exactly the first emotion that strikes on a Monday morning. I’d say my typical Monday mood is a combination of “that weekend was too short” and “more coffee please.” Today, however, I say we take 30 seconds to set the Monday-morning blues aside and focus on one thing that makes us do a happy dance.
Those who know me best (particularly a certain someone who lives with me) will tell you that I’m not particularly good at doing things half way. I’m either cannon balling head first into whatever activity/feeling/food has captured my interest, or I’m totally ignoring it.
If you think about it, the actual visual of cannon balling head first is more like taking a really ugly dive. I find this image appropriate, considering it’s how many of my fixations turn out (that one time I took up fencing because it looked cool in Pirates of the Caribbean; that other time I carried my sketch pad everywhere so I could “draw”). When something catches my interest, I give it my time and energy, often to a fault. Some call it obsessive; I prefer to think of it as passionate.
The concept of “go big or go home” appeals to me. I like big flavors, loud music, and the feeling of being immersed in an idea or experience. While this kind of energy can be captivating and positive, it can also be detrimental—it depends upon the pool into which I’m plunging.
As I shared last week, I’ve recently been dealing with feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a sentiment to which I am sure many of you can relate. While my to-do list won’t be going away any time soon, this week I’ve decided to focus on the things in my life that bring me joy and make that to-do list worth completing. Here are a few:
- The return of the outdoor Madison Farmers Market. If you followed this blog at any point between last spring and fall (and especially if you follow The Law Student’s Wife on Facebook or Instagram), you are likely aware that I have a deep-end-of-the-pool, go-big-or-go-home love affair with the Madison Farmers Market. It’s the largest producer-only farmers market in the country, and its bounty inspires my cooking like no other place on earth. On Saturday, the market returned filled with flowers, all manners of meats and cheeses, frost-sweetened spinach, and my favorite scones. Such a joy!
- Triumphant Singing: At Easter Mass; in my car; and out running, which is super cool when someone passes me mid-fist pump. (Yes, I fist pump while running. Maybe this is why I have yet to find a solid running buddy.)
- Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza: Spring happiness; longer days; and fine balance, all on a crust.
Simple, beautiful meals like Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza touch me in a way that over-the-top gourmet dishes do not. Yes, I love experiencing new foods and cooking styles when I go out to eat, but I find something intrinsically beautiful in dishes that taste their best when the ingredients are manipulated as little as possible and served in season.
On the subject of joy: Isn’t it just miraculous that the vegetables that come into season together—kale and butternut squash in the fall; basil and tomatoes in the summer—also taste harmonious together? Leek + asparagus is one of my absolute favorite spring flavor combinations, and I can’t get enough. I’ve made this Sunburst Leek, Asparagus, and Carrot Puff Pastry Quiche twice since I posted it, and we’re on our fourth round of Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza.
Clearly, I’m passionate and obsessive.
When I was envisioning this pizza, caramelizing the leeks was a clear choice for the first topping (think caramelized onions with a more subtle, inherently sweet flavor). Asparagus followed for its perfect pairing with leeks and its perma-presence in my fridge from March through May. Rather than sauté the asparagus, I used Deb’s brilliant technique of shaving it into ribbons, which preserved the asparagus’ flavor and texture. After trying her method, I’ll never serve an asparagus pizza any other way.
To give the pizza extra heartiness, I topped it with spicy ground turkey. I love the way the turkey’s flavor mixed with the caramely leeks, without overpowering the pizza. A dusting of nutty pecorino cheese is both delectable and necessary, and a quick drizzle of olive oil completes this scrumptious spring pie.
Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza is also an ideal make-ahead meal. Prepare the dough and sauté the toppings the night before. The next night, pull the dough out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking, and you’re 20 minutes away from a fab, fresh spring dinner. I’ve taken to doubling the topping. It’s the same amount of effort, and that way we can enjoy Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza two separate nights during the week. It is that good.
Now that I’ve shared my cannon-head-first-crazy love for this Spicy Turkey, Leek, and Asparagus Pizza, I want to know:
What brings you joy?
Whether it’s a song on the radio, waking up to your pup licking your face, or dude you saw rocking out to his iPod at the bus stop this morning (I love that guy!), please please share it. I believe joy multiplies when it’s shared, so let’s brighten up this Monday, shall we?
Here’s to ugly dives, simple beauties, and Spicy Leek, Turkey, and Asparagus Pizza. Go big or go home!
Spicy Turkey, Leek and Asparagus Pizza
Spicy Turkey, Leek and Shaved Asparagus Pizza is the perfect homemade pizza recipe for spring. It's fresh, healthy, and easy to make ahead too!
Yield: 1 11x14-inch pizza, Serves 4
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 1/2 recipe (1 crust) Weeknight Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (or your favorite pizza dough recipe—enough to yield one 11x14-inch pizza)
- 1/2 pound asparagus
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for brushing
- 2 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/2 pound ground turkey**
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 4 ounces freshly grated pecorino cheese
- 1-2 tablespoons truffle oil* or substitute olive oil
- Place rack in top third of oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Generously dust a large baking sheet with cornmeal or flour or line with parchment paper.
- Prepare the asparagus: Lay each asparagus spear on the counter and hold by the “tough” end. With a vegetable peeler, shave long ribbons of asparagus by sliding the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks. (The pieces may be different sizes and some may be too small to shave.) Discard tough stem ends. In a small bowl, toss the shavings with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add leeks, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook leeks until softened, about 8 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the turkey, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, red pepper flakes, and fennel. Sauté until the meat is fully cooked and no pink remains, about 4 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 11x14-inch rectangle, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Brush dough liberally with olive oil, then top with the leeks, turkey, and pecorino. Pile the asparagus on top. (It may seem like a lot of asparagus, but it will cook down as it bakes.) Carefully side the pizza onto the prepared peel/pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and crisp. Drizzle with oil and serve.
The spicy turkey and leek topping can be made up to two days in advance and the dough can be refrigerated for up to three days (rather than setting it on the counter to rise, simply transfer it to the fridge in a covered bowl) or frozen well-wrapped in plastic for up to two months. I like to double the topping, then make pizza on two separate nights throughout the week. *Ingredient note: Truffle Oil. I found my truffle oil at Trader Joe's for $6. I decided to splurge on it because a small drizzle brings big-time truffle flavor. I also love it in eggs and over risotto too! If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's this truffle oil received good reviews online, though I have not tried it personally. **Making the pizza vegetarian: For a vegetarian option, sprinkle the red pepper flakes and fennel seeds over the caramelized leeks, then swap the ground turkey for 6 to 8 ounces of freshly grated mozzarella cheese, depending upon how ooey-gooey cheesy you'd like your final pizza to be.