A pizza recipe with artichoke, mozzarella — and cicadas

·3 min read
FILE - An adult cicada rests after shedding its nymphal skin, on the bark of an an oak tree early Wednesday, May 5, 2021, on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md. Swarms of the red-eyed bugs reemerging after 17 years below ground offer a chance for home cooks to turn the tables: making the cicadas into snacks. Full of protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb, cicadas were used as a food source by Native Americans and are still eaten by humans in many countries. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

David George Gordon, author of the “Eat-a-Bug Cookbook,” says periodical cicadas should be harvested immediately after they have undergone their final molt — usually within minutes of their appearance above ground.

Clinging by their claws to the bark of trees, these freshly formed adults have yet to develop fully functional wings. As such, they are sitting ducks, easily captured by hand or with a small net. To arrest any further development, he recommends plunging these captives into ice water or freezing them. Otherwise you may have to mount an aerial search to recapture your ingredients.

In 1987, when Gordon found himself up to his elbows in a previous brood of cicadas, he took the advice of University of Chicago professor emeritus Monte Lloyd and prepared the catch as a topping for pizza. It was a hit in his kitchen.

CICADA PIZZA

Yield: 4 servings

Dough:

1 teaspoon active dried yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/4 cups bread flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

Tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 pound peeled tomatoes, sliced into 3/4-inch chunks

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

6 marinated artichoke hearts

8 sundried tomatoes in oil

8 subadult periodical cicadas, thawed from frozen or freshly caught

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. To make the dough, combine the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Add this liquid, the 1 tablespoon olive oil, and remaining water to the flour and cornmeal. Mix to a soft dough, then knead on a lightly floured board until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

2. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

3. While waiting for the dough to rise, begin making the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add onion and garlic, and cook until soft.

4. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from flame.

5. Punch down the risen dough and knead briefly. Place in the center of an oiled 12-inch pizza pan. Press outward, using the knuckles, until dough is evenly spread, filling the pan. Pinch a lip around the edge to contain the sauce. Brush the dough with olive oil.

6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

7. Spoon tomato sauce over the dough. Spread mozzarella cheese uniformly over the sauce.

8. Drain the sundried tomatoes, reserving the oil. Coarsely chop them and the artichoke hearts, artfully arranging the two items over the cheese.

9. Top with fresh or thawed-from-frozen periodic cicadas.

10. Sprinkle the completed pie with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and dough is crisp and golden. Dust with red pepper flakes and serve.

11. Wait 13 to 17 years and repeat this entire sequence.

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Source: “The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook” by David George Gordon, copyright 1998, 2013 by Ten Speed Press.