TJ's Asparagus Pizza
I have been corresponding through our email with a Pizza Quester named TJ about making the Buonchristiani Lamb Sausage with Fennel Pizza. TJ asked a few questions and then went off and had great success making the pizza (that really is one that you have to try -- I love that pizza!). In one of TJ's emails he told me about one of his own favorite pizzas. It's a thinly shaved asparagus pizza. Right there, that sounded really interesting, so, I thought I would give it a try. (in other words, he had me at "shaved asparagus")
I asked TJ where he got the recipe and he said that the original recipe is from the blog Smitten Kitchen. I looked that up and here is the link so that they get the credit. It's another great pizza! We love pizza, don't we?! You can find the original recipe here: http://smittenkitchen.com.
I am going to use TJ's own words to tell you how to make this pizza. I think it demonstrates a couple of things. The first, and most important thing, is simply this: passion. This pizza is a perfect example of how important these simple passions are to our daily lives. We keep ourselves younger by engaging our minds with tasks that push us to learn, or grow in some way. TJ and I have never met, and may never meet, but we connected and engaged in this shared passion. I hope that experience is enriching for both of us, I know it was for me. And, the second interesting thing is this: that any recipe can be taken and should be interpreted, adapted, and adjusted for each individual.
Following is TJ's email about his version of the Smitten Kitchen's Version of an Asparagus Pizza.
TJ's Email and the Asparagus Pizza Recipe:
The asparagus pizza is originally from Smitten Kitchen. My entire family loves the pizza. My mom had me over last week to make it as an appetizer for her card club and they loved it also. I have made it primarily using Peter's country wheat dough but it works nicely on a traditional dough also.
I spread out my dough to the desired size.
Brush the entire dough with olive oil that has fresh garlic or powder or, like last time both, I also add a small amount of sugar to the oil.
Top typically with full fat cheese blend of the day, motz and provolone, motz and Munster, or all three; my sister really likes to use fresh mozzarella hunks. Whatever looks good.
Top cheese with Asparagus. One of the coolest things I learned in a long time was to use a vegetable peeler to make thin ribbons of asparagus. Place the asparagus on a cutting board holding the woody end as a handle and push the peeler firmly away to the head of the spear to produce these beautiful ribbons of spring. I blot my asparagus dry with a paper towel; too much moisture leads to a runny end-product.
Lightly toss the asparagus with olive oil salt and pepper. Not too much olive oil.
Sprinkle fresh Parmesan over the asparagus.
Cook until done in the hottest oven possible.
Play around with it, experiment with different cheese, pepper flakes more or less oil etc. etc.
This is a great time of year for fresh asparagus!
*Note from Brad: As you can see from my pictures, I varied from TJ's version right off the bat. And, so the evolution continues. I used some "Herb Oil" I had made and that worked out really nicely. I also used a mixture of Provolone and Mozzarella because I had that on hand. But, as TJ says, "Play around with it!" and, I did. I hope you do as well.