Is it just in New York or is everyone talking about ramps? People around these parts are truly obsessed with this early spring vegetable. For anyone that isn’t familiar with ramps, they’re a member of the lily family (along with garlic, leeks and onions) and grow in the wild. They look similar to a scallion and taste somewhere between a leek and garlic. They are only available for a short time during which gourmands snatch them up at relatively high prices ($14/lb around me) at farmers markets and specialty groceries.
The other night at dinner, my friend, Molly, could not stop raving about them, and a pizza made with ramp pesto in particular. Expensive and rare you say? Sold. I must have them. Thus, I went out in search of my own pot full o’ ramps Sunday morning. After going to every fancy market within a 2 mile radius, I gave up my search. Everyone was completely sold out. Sadly, I returned home with a bunch of scallions and blistered feet (first time wearing flip flops this season=ouch). I wasn’t totally defeated though, I did find delicious smoked mozzarella and speck (smoked prosciutto) along the way and decided to make my own pizza inspired by Molly.
We wanted to take advantage of the long awaited spring weather so we grilled the pizza outside. I made a pesto using the scallions and topped the pizza with the smoked mozzarella and speck. It was so good. Maybe it would have been better with ramps, but until I find this elusive veg, this is a great alternative.
Grilled Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella, Speck, and Scallion Pesto
- 10 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup of toasted walnuts, roughly chopped (or pine nuts)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/3 cup of olive oil, plus more for brushing dough
- 1/3 cup of grated parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded smoked mozzarella
- 8 slices of speck (smoked prosciutto)
- pizza dough (see recipe below)
Heat up your outdoor grill.
Combine the scallions, walnuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is finely chopped. With the food processor running, slowly add in the olive oil through the feed tube until it is all pureed. Add the parmesan and pulse a few more times. Set the pesto aside.
Roll out your pizza dough to a 1/4 of an inch thickness. This amount of dough will make either one large pizza or two smaller ones. We made two since we have a small grill. Brush both sides of the dough with olive oil and put it on the grill. Cook dough on both sides until there is a nice char. It should only take a couple of minutes. Remove the cooked crust, set aside, and allow the grill to cool down. While you are waiting, spread the pesto on the crust and top with the shredded mozzarella and slices of speck.
Once the grill has cooled down slightly, put your pizza back on, cover with the grill lid, and allow the cheese to melt and the toppings to warm. This should only take a couple of minutes. Be careful not to let the bottom of the crust get too dark. Enjoy!
Pizza Dough for the Grill
From Tyler Florence’s Family Meal
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water and stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, 5 to 10 minutes.
If you are using a mixer, turn the mixer on low and add the salt and olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until the flour has been completely incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium and let it go until the dough gathers into a ball. This should take about 5 minutes. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough as your’re making it by squeezing a small amount together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water, if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few time, kneading until it’s smooth.
If you’re making the dough by hand, stir in the salt and the olive oil. Then begin stirring in the flour. When the mixture becomes too stiff to stir with a wooden spoon, knead the rest of the flour in by hand, adding just enough to make a dough that is soft but not too sticky. As you work, squeeze a small amount of dough together between your thumb and fingers. If it’s crumbly, add more water, if it’s sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and put it into a lightly oiled bowl, turning it over to coat the dough entirely with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
MAKES 1 LARGE PIZZA OR 2 SMALLER PIZZAS