Shaved Asparagus Pizza

We always love a pizza recipe. So in an effort to find something easy to make, we stumbled across this one on Smitten Kitchen.

Makes 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza

1 recipe Really Simple Pizza Dough or your favorite pizza dough
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes (we used 12 oz. rather than 8 oz.)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it goes, or about 500 in most cases. If you use a pizza stone, have it in there.

Prepare asparagus: No need to snap off ends; they can be your “handles” as you peel the asparagus. Holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler works best here, but I only had a standard, old and pretty dull peeler and it still worked; a mandolin would also work, in theory, but I found it more difficult to do it that way), create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks and don’t fret some pieces are unevenly thick (such as the end of the stalk, which might be too thin to peel); the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Toss peelings with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and be sure to try one — I bet you can hardly believe how good raw asparagus can taste.

Assemble and bake pizza: Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Either transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel (if using a pizza stone in the oven) or to a floured or cornmeal-dusted tray to bake it on. Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus might be lightly charred. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with scallions, then slice and eat.

David: It was delicious. It was very, very simple but fresh and I almost don’t believe that it turned out as good as it did. Everything was in perfect balance.
Carla: It was very tasty. We used our pizza dough recipe. It was easy to put together and was great reheated the next night.

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Palermo’s Copycat Pizza Sauce (April 10, 2011)

continuing my quest for decent pizza, the next goal was to make the best sauce in the world. as i have grown, i think that sauce is perhaps the most crucial element in a pizza for me, and so using the pre-packaged stuff was just out of the question. after asking the internet for help, i found an entry on pizzamaking dot com posted by someone trying to capture the sauce of palermo’s in oak lawn, IL. palermo’s has a sweet pizza sauce that is one of the best around, and the notion of making something that delicious appealed to me.

based on her entry, here’s sort of how it went down:

2 large cans Crushed Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic (i used ones with basil added instead)
1 1/2 tsp. Fresh Basil or 3/4 tsp. dried Basil (i left this out, as i got the basil tomatoes)
1/2 tsp. Oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 tsp. garlic powder or fresh garlic to taste (Only if you are using crushed tomatoes with no garlic already added)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
3/4-1 tsp. salt
6-8T sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (i don’t know if i measured this out or just tossed it in)

i simmered very gently for a few hours in the evening, then left it in the fridge until the next day, when i made the pizzas. this made enough sauce for six pizzas (rectangular baking sheet size pizzas), and i use a healthy amount of sauce per pizza.

some thoughts:

– first, it was pretty good. the sugar and cinnamon do give it a unique sweetness, which i really enjoyed. when i was stirring and tasting this, i always licked the spoon completely clean because it tasted so good.

– if there was a flaw, it’s that i might prefer a slightly thicker sauce. i think adding some tomato paste and simmering at a higher temperature to reduce it more might help this out a bit.

i’d give it a B+ as is. i’ll definitely make again, and possible take into account some of the comments in that thread i liked to before, using some more spices as well. overall, a satisfying foray into sauce.

Pizza Dough (February 12, 2010)

i do love pizza, but the pizza in texas (or at least in huntsville) is awful. so i made pizza this week. nothing notable about the toppings – i’ve yet to make my own sauce, but i plan to next time – but i wanted to post this simple pizza dough recipe i used.

via martha stewart

Makes four 7-inch pizzas, or two 14-inch pizzas

* 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
* 3/4 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat bowl

Directions

1. Combine yeast with warm water; let stand 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy. Stir well.
2. Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Add yeast mixture and olive oil, and process just until dough comes together.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, knead for 1 minute, and shape into a ball.
4. Place in a well-oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.

notes – i purchased the fleischmann’s yeast marked specifically for pizza dough to make this. i used the food processor’s dough blade to mix the whole thing into a ball. it was very easy and worked fine, leaving just a tiny bit of kneading by hand to get some stray pieces into the ball. i used this recipe to make one rectangular pizza on a standard baking sheet.

i thought that it turned out quite nicely. when we made pizza dough in our breadmaker, it often turned out a little difficult to work with. this dough, when left to rise for the full hour, was extraordinarily flexible and spongy, and easy to spread out by hand. i’m not a fanatic about pizza crust – i think the other elements are a bit more important – but this crust baked evenly and tasted fine when finished.

and if you’re curious, i topped with store-bought sauce (boboli), chicken sausage (i believe it was artichoke+garlic flavored) and mushrooms (both sauted before baking), spinach, and a mix of two romano cheeses – a “standard” one i bought at kroger, and a little bit of the “fancy” one i have on hand from hubbell and hudson. i have found that cheaping out on cheese is the biggest mistake one can make.

grade – B+ (on the dough), A- (on the pizza)

Ham, Swiss, and Shallot Pizza (February 21, 2010)

David and I opted for some pizza this weekend as the start of the week is going to be extra busy. I have been checking out kitchen.com and found this recipe which we tried this evening.

Adapted from Real Simple

  • cornmeal for the pan
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen – we used the pizza dough we make in the bread maker.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, cut into thin rings and separated
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme – we used dried spices: salt, pepper, basil, thyme
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese (2 ounces) – we used swiss.

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425º F. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the cornmeal. Shape the dough into a 14-inch circle and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the oil and bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the shallots, thyme, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  4. Top the partially cooked dough with the ham, shallot mixture, and cheese. Bake until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted, 12 to 15 minutes.

Carla – This was pretty easy to put together and pretty tasty. Baking the dough twice caused the first pizza that we made (we made 2) to be a bit overdone. I think we would need to bake it a bit less in the beginning so that it was a bit less overdone. It was an interesting flavor without sauce. I would try it again. B+

David: It was alright. We overcooked the crust and that hurt it this time through. We have to be careful when we do pre-cooking with the hot oven. The cheese we got was a little average, so it might be better with better quality cheese. B-

White Pizza (January 29, 2010)

David (as always) was in the mood for pizza. When he noticed a post on kitchn.com about pizza, we decided that we needed to try one this week. We decided on the White Pizza, with some modifications of course.

It was really Swiss Chard and Artichoke “White Pizza”, but as luck would have it, we couldn’t find any swiss chard at all at the grocery. So we decided to substitute some spinach instead. All else remained the same.

We also made our own pizza dough with the bread maker, which we love to do. I’m sure this would be great on a pre-made crust or a refrigerated crust as well.

White Pizza
Adapted from Farmgirl Fare

Pizza dough
8 ounces mozzarella shredded

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 5 ounces)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 and 1/2 bunches of baby spinach – about 4 cups cleaned and trimmed
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and rinsed, chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

About an hour before you’re ready to bake your pizza, place a baking stone (if using) on the lowest rack in the oven and heat to 500 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart or larger pot. Add onion and chopped Swiss chard stalks and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes; do not let garlic brown.

Stir spinach leaves and chopped artichoke hearts into onion mixture. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Remove pan from heat and let chard mixture cool slightly, and then stir in Parmesean.

Shape the pizza dough on a piece of unbleached parchment paper (we put it directly on a cookie sheet without parchment) and set it on a pizza peel (or directly on your baking sheet/pizza pan if you aren’t using a baking stone). Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the dough. Top with mozzarella. Slide pizza (parchment and all) onto the baking stone and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is starting to brown. Slice and serve, and try not to burn your tongue on the first bite!

David: I love it! I think we could go slightly easier on the artichokes; there was a lot of artichokes. Other than that I would definitely make it again. I would give it an A.

Carla: I was also pleased with how it turned out. With the simplicity of ingredients, it was hard to know how it would turn out. I like it and I would also have it again.