Spring onions (the uncured bulbs of mature onions, not scallions) are a marvelous seasonal treat that show up in markets in late spring and early summer. Milder and sweeter than cured yellow onions, they have higher moisture content which makes them tender as well. Because of their more delicate flavor they’re great in simple preparations such as in salads or just roasted.
Spring onions also make a fantastic topping on pizza and bread. I’ve paired here with Gruyere cheese, which melts and then crisps in parts, imparting a marvelous nutty flavor. The extra moisture in the onions keeps them from drying out, allowing them to caramelize, providing sweet bursts of flavor layered into the salty cheese.
I use a no-knead dough for this pizza, and Aube Giroux recently did a great video on making no-knead dough at Kitchen Vignettes. The great thing about this dough is its versatility. Depending on how much you let it rise, and the temperature of your oven, you can make two totally different breads from the same dough and toppings. To illustrate, I’ve included instructions below for making both a pizza and rolls.
While making no-knead dough is no longer a revolutionary idea, I have a few tips for you that may be helpful.
- Use a scale. I’ve written before about the 5 reasons you should use a scale, and making dough is the perfect example of when you should use one. Not only will it give you more consistent results, it’s also much easier as you can just dump the ingredients straight into a bowl rather than measuring out each one separately.
- Use bread flour – bread flour has a higher gluten content than regular flour. In the case of breads, you want the extra gluten, which gives the bread structure making it rise better and contributes to the toothsome texture of a good bread.
- Use long chopsticks to stir the dough. Because they have such little surface area, the dough doesn’t really stick to them, and the little dough that does stick is easily scraped off, making it much easier to clean up.
- Store the dough in a lightly oiled freezer bag. While there’s no harm in keeping the dough in a bowl or tub, the dough needs to be refrigerated after its initial rise. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly have a ton of open space in my fridge, which is why I like to store the dough in a freezer bag. Just add a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to the bag, spread it all over the bag and into every nook and cranny so the dough doesn’t stick, then put the dough in. When the dough is rising, be sure you don’t completely seal the bag, or the gasses from the rising dough can make the bag burst.
For the pizza, a preheated pizza stone works the best, but if you don’t have one, you can use a cast iron skillet as shown in my Pizza Margherita recipe.
Spring Onions and Gruyere Pizza
- 500 grams bread flour
- 8 grams salt
- 5 grams yeast
- 350 grams water
- 300 grams spring onions (1 very large onion)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 120 grams Gruyere or comte, grated
- To make the dough, weigh the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl and whisk together.
- Add the water and stir until the mixture is evenly mixed. Put the dough in a lightly oiled freezer bag, but do not seal the bag completely shut. Let the dough rise overnight at room temperature.
- You can use the dough the next day, or store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Slice the onion into rings about 3/16-inch thick and toss them with 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a colander. Let this drain for at least 30 minutes. The salt not only seasons the onions, it encourages the onions to give off some of their excess moisture, which will prevent your bread/pizza from getting soggy.
- If you're making pizza, move the oven rack to the top position and set the oven to broil. If you have a pizza stone, put the pizza stone on the rack to preheat.
- Split the dough into three pieces and form them into balls. Use the backs of your fingers and thumbs to gently press and stretch the ball into a disc and then use a rolling pin on a well floured surface to roll the pizza out to a 9-inch disk.
- Use paper towels to dry off the onions. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the dough, leaving a thin rim of dough around the edges and then top with an even layer of onions.
- Broil the pizzas either on a preheated pizza stone or on a sheet pan until golden brown (about 5-8 minutes).
- If you're making rolls, generously flour your hands and a work surface and pinch off pieces of dough about the size of a small orange and form them into balls. You should be able to get about 6 balls.
- Use the backs of your fingers and thumbs to gently press and stretch the ball into a disk about the size of a DVD. It doesn't have to be perfectly round as that's part of what gives it its rustic charm.
- Use paper towels to dry off the onions. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of the dough and then top with an even layer of onions. You actually want the cheese to spill over the edges of the dough a little as this is what crisps up in the oven.
- Cover loosely with damp paper towels to keep the dough from drying out and then leave it in a warm place and let it rise for 1 hour.
- Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat it to 425F. Bake until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes)
Yield: Makes 3 9-inch pizzas or 6 smaller rolls
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.