Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seriously, spring.

I'm wearing a wool scarf today. It is not okay.

Granted, I'm almost done with a cotton version of the same over-sized, kerchief-style cowl I've been sporting all winter. I was anticipated warmer weather. I was anticipating a change in the grocery store's produce.

Alas, it is the same sad, wilted collection week and after week. Not to say I haven't been buying up citrus and all manner of root vegetables, but I need a little more green in my life. The unfortunate thing is that what green there is available at the ironically titled "Fresh Grocer" is not only desperate looking, it's also ridiculously overpriced.

I kid you not when I say $5 for a bunch of asparagus. It's probably imported from South America or something. My locavore heart breaks every time.

But since it's almost April, I have faith we'll see reasonably priced, locally grown asparagus soon (aside: can I grow asparagus in my apartment? Or outside it? Who wants to tackle this one?). And when we do, you'll be ready.

I love how the way the vegetable is cut colors the entire dish. If you've eaten dinner at our house in spring time, you're more than likely to be served asparagus that's simply been thrown under the broiler for ten or so minutes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. But even that (delicious at is. And believe me, it is) gets old. This is asparagus, only MORE FUN! It's on pizza, for Christ's sake (and mean that)!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

from Smitten Kitchen, of course

Makes 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza

Pizza dough: we always use this one from Mario Batali with white wine and honey
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes, squeeze of lemon, optional

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, ours is from Ikea), 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, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using) 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 and squeeze with lemon juice, then slice and eat.


Alexandra said...

he returns!!!! and the meal looks fabulous.

wallflower1332 said...

how about you come to Chicago and we make this? aka I watch you make it while I set the table and make little name-tags for our places.