I’ll admit that sometimes I have a kneejerk reaction of avoiding things that are trendy, even when those things are right up my alley. Case in point: shaved asparagus pizza, which seemed to me like something that’s popular mainly because it’s so Pinterest*-ready pretty with its tangle of green, not because it tastes much different from pizzas topped with asparagus in normal-sized pieces. This is one instance where I’m perfectly happy to be proven wrong.
*Second case in point: Pinterest itself, which I finally gave in and joined this past month. Turns out that despite the annoying qualities I’d foreseen (lots of insipid content to wade through, and the general championing of style over substance...or am I just feeling defensive because my rickety old Blogspot blog with the impatiently staged and poorly lit food photos looks so sad in comparison to most of what’s out there?), it’s precisely what I needed to organize my recipes-to-try after the sad, ugly decline of my longtime favorite Delicious. (I tried Pepperplate for a while, but it and other apps designed especially for recipes were too feature-rich for my taste. I don’t need to generate shopping lists, I just want to be able to bookmark web pages, tag them by category and see a photo—that’s it!) I just keep all my boards private, and I have to admit it’s pretty nifty…much like this pizza, to get back to my main point.
I had a hankering for something springy and fresh in the pizza department, so (inspired by a more recent iteration at A Cozy Kitchen) I dredged up this old recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It turns out that shaved asparagus, tossed with oil and red pepper flakes and a generous quantity of salt, creates a totally distinctive pizza experience. The fact that shaving the asparagus is somewhat awkward is actually a plus, because the mix of textures from the unevenly sized strips is really what sets this apart. All the ingredients melt dreamily together, with the occasional pop of a larger asparagus tip making its presence known. My only adaptations were to add red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice, neither of which were strictly needed, but they are so perfect with asparagus it’s hard to resist.
So better late than never, all aboard the bandwagon! Next spring I’m finally trying shaved asparagus salad.
1 pound pizza dough
½ to ¾ pound asparagus
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ pound shredded mozzarella
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Several grinds black pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- 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 use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped one works best here) to 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 tip, which might be too thin to peel); the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Toss peelings in a medium bowl with olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper to taste.
- Roll or stretch out your pizza dough and transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Sprinkle 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, squeeze lemon juice over the top if desired, then slice and eat.
Time: 35 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.