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:

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.

Very simple.

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.




#1 Teresa 2011-07-20 07:01
Wow! Great looking pizza! I love asparagus and this is a nice way of showcasing it on a pizza, thanks!
#2 Brad English 2011-07-20 08:13
It was delicious! As I look back at this, I think a nice chili oil drizzled over it would be nice.
#3 Teresa 2011-07-20 08:53
Chili oil does sound intriguing. Have you tried pesto sauce on your pizzas? It is a favorite of mine, I wonder if it would overwhelm the flavor of the asparagus though? I should see.....
#4 Brad English 2011-07-20 11:25
I have not done a pesto pizza yet. For this one, maybe used sparingly it would work. I would think you'd want something to stand up and shout on top of the pesto and the chili oil, or a little thinly sliced spicy sopressata, or even some nice prosciutto cotto. Let us know how it goes.
#5 TJ 2011-07-21 12:20

Wow it was really tons of fun to see your latest post on Pizza Quest that included the asparagus pizza! I think it all came together very nicely. Hopefully others will participate more actively when they realize how accessible you guys are and how enjoyable it can be to share the quest. I was in Boulder Colorado for a wedding a couple of weeks ago and because I enjoyed the Pizzeria Basta stuff so much from the site my family and I decided to have lunch there. It was really a wonderful experience and has given me lots of ideas and inspiration. I’m making the Burrata appetizer from Basta this weekend with my family, it really put a smile on our faces at the restaurant hopefully it does the same at home.

My oven was completed last week so I should have lots of ideas and hopefully inspiration to share soon.

Thanks again for the great article and for Pizza Quest,

#6 Brad English 2011-07-21 12:46

This was a great pizza. It was great corresponding with you. Keep in touch and please keep sharing your ideas and experiments. Send me some photos of your finished oven and future creations!

#7 ss 2011-07-21 16:56
I never understood why people slice the asparagus like this for a pizza. I toss my asparagus, whole, in a little XVOO, salt and pepper and then roast it for a couple minutes until it starts browning, and then I just add them whole to the pizza and it makes a fantastic pizza.
#8 Brad English 2011-07-21 19:54

I'm sure that would be great also.

The nice thing about the thin slices, is that when you take a bite of the pizza, you don't pull off a whole stalk, or all of your asparagus in one bite. They are each thin enough to break off in your mouth. I also think they look great and the layers of them with varying thickness all cook to different degrees. There's lots going on there. Try it this way and I'll give it a whirl your way.


#9 dMax 2011-07-24 16:09
I just made Peter R's focaccia with his herb oil, this asparagus and jarlesburg cheese (it's what we had). I baked the crust for 10 minutes, dressed it, and cooked 12 minutes more.

My family devoured it! I hadn't read the comments and didn't think to add chili oil but I will next time. I'd better make extra.

Or maybe I'll try a different tack and drizzle some truffle oil. Decisions.....

Thanks for posting!

#10 Jan Morris 2011-08-13 06:40
We made asparagus and prosciutto pizza this spring. Smear of tomato sauce (hand crushed San Marzano), bite sized pizzas of pre-grilled (but not too long) asparagus, small clumps of prosciutto, and finished with parmigiano. It was fabulous!

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