Or, the whole of the pie is greater than the sum of its alliums.
We visited the last monthly winter market this weekend to find the very first sign of Spring — wild garlic — at Nina’s booth. She’s my go-to source for fresh eggs and local honey, but she always has some lagniappe I appreciate — last year it was callaloo and micro greens and last month, freshly smoked jalapenos. But as soon as I saw this month’s wild garlic offering, I knew it was destined for spring’s perfect pizza. You can keep your ramps; I’ll stick to locally-grown wild garlic for $1 a bunch! (Sadly, we don’t have any growing in our yard or it’d be even cheaper.)
Since I’m pathologically incapable of making anything the same way twice, I subbed in a gluten-free crust and added layers of flavor with garlic oil and garlic confit. Frankly, I wouldn’t know where to draw the “too much garlic” line, but this wasn’t even close. On this pie, at least, it’s all mellow and sweet and borderline addictive.
Garlic confit, like creme fraiche and sofrito, is one of those things that’s nice to have on hand to add a little something to a dish. Whole cloves are slow-cooked in olive oil until they’re soft and sweetly caramelized, which is nice on its own, but as a bonus you get that lovely oil to use for drizzling, dipping, salad dressings, etc.
The gluten-free pizza crust is the best I’ve yet tried, but I’m still on the lookout for something less…squeaky. (Those of you who’ve had the heavily starch-based crusts know what I mean.) Something a little breadier would be really nice in this application.
Not that I’m complaining — far from it. These toppings just deserve the very best base you can give them. I’m doing it for the garlic, you see.
recipe after the jump
You certainly can make more than this at once, but I think one head is a manageable amount for two people to use within a week. Your mileage may vary, of course.
1 head garlic, cloves separated, but unpeeled
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 300°.
In a small pot of boiling water, blanch the garlic cloves for 20-30 seconds, then shock them in an ice bath. Cut off the tip of each clove, slip off the peel and dry each clove. Place peeled cloves in a small baking dish with peppercorns and bay leaves, if using, then cover with olive oil by up to one inch.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until cloves are golden and very soft. Cool slightly, remove peppercorns and bay leaves, and place garlic and oil in a glass jar. Refrigerate for up to one week.
Makes two 10-inch crusts if you like them thick, 12-inch if you like them thin. I used a half recipe for this pizza.
125 grams (1 cup) cornstarch
125 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) corn flour
125 grams (3/4 cup) potato starch
125 grams (3/4 cup) sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
375 grams (1 3/4 cup) warm water, heated to about 110°
50 grams (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
15 grams (4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
gluten-free cornmeal for sprinkling on pan (not all are gluten-free due to manufacturing practices)
olive oil, for brushing
Combining the dry ingredients. Sift cornstarch, corn flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flours into large bowl. Add xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt. Sift mixture into bowl of stand mixer
Activating the yeast. Combine warm water, olive oil, and yeast in small bowl. Stir gently. Let rest for a minute.
Making the dough. Pour yeasty water into dry ingredients. Mix at medium speed (using the dough hook attachment) for 2 minutes, until dough comes together and feels soft and pliable. Set dough aside in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 550° (or as hot as your oven will allow it). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now. Sprinkle a pizza tray or baking sheet with cornmeal.
Rolling out the dough. Cut the dough ball in half. Put one of the balls of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Through the paper, roll out the dough as thin as you can make it.
Pre-baking the crust. Carefully transfer dough onto the pizza pan. Brush dough with olive oil. Bake until the dough feels firm and you can lift it off the pan and will hold its shape, about 7 minutes. (Note: I never transfer dough to a pizza pan, but instead place the dough along with the bottom sheet of parchment paper on the pan or baking stone. Once baked, the pizza lifts off with no sticking…much easier than transferring raw dough.)
Take the crust out of the oven and top it as you wish.
You can make the second crust immediately (and really, you probably will). Or, you can put it in the refrigerator and have pizza again the next day.
Triple-Garlic Pizza adapted from Food & Wine
Feel free to use your own recipe for pizza dough, or buy a crust already-made.
15-20 bulbs wild garlic, plus greens
5-10 cloves garlic confit, mashed (depending on your love of/tolerance for garlic)
1 cup coarsely grated fresh mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Truffle oil or melted truffle butter (the better choice, but it’s an optional step)
Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the wild garlic until they are bright green but still al dente, about 1 minute. Drain, pat dry and cut into 1-inch lengths.
Brush dough with garlic oil from the confit and pre-bake, according to instructions.
After pre-baking, spread the dough with garlic confit and sprinkle on the grated mozzarella in an even layer. Scatter the blanched wild garlic over the mozzarella and season liberally with salt and pepper. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Bake for about 8 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the pizza crust is browned and crisp on the bottom. Transfer the pizza to a work surface, cut into pieces, lightly drizzle with truffle oil or butter and serve right away.