Friday, May 27, 2011

shaved asparagus, garlic, & truffle cheese pizza

wow, this pizza was pretty great. it was a perfect way to use up some of the piles of asparagus that i got at the farmers' market on saturday and the truffle cheese i used (from trader joe's) plus garlic really put it over the top. i got the idea for asparagus pizza from deb at (another great food blog) and made it several times last year. one time we grilled it as small individual pizzas, which is a fantastic choice if you are not into turning on the oven or if you're already grilling something.

this is the asparagus i got at the market. i bought the last five bunches the stand had (i gave one to jen) and it was nice that some were big fat juicy ones and some were the thin little tiny ones, because the different textures really worked well on the pizza. but you can definitely just use the larger ones. i suppose you could just use small ones as well, but the larger ones get shaved up with a vegetable peeler and i think the textural benefits of this are important.

for the dough i just used one of the pre-made pizza doughs that trader joe's has, because they are pretty good and cheap and also because i thought of this for dinner in the afternoon, so there wasn't time to make a good dough myself. but homemade dough would be great here, or whatever kind of dough you fancy. i let it sit out for half an hour or so before forming it into a thin round by hand, but you can also use a rolling pin or a wine bottle or something to roll it out. i put it on a cookie sheet on which i had sprinkled a tablespoon or so of coarse cornmeal.

pre-heat the oven to 450. you want it nice and hot. i also put a rack on the lowest level and one on the highest level.
wash the asparagus and trim like an inch or a little less off the tip. then peel the bottom half or so, so you don't end up eating any tough stemmy parts. i used one of those y-shaped peelers and i think it was easier than if i had used one of the other kind, but you could probably use either. a y-shaped peeler is good to have, though.

so once all the yuck part is off, you just want to shave the asparagus into ribbons. i held the top of the stalk and slid the peeler down maybe 4-5 times on one side, then turned it over and did the same on the other side - basically you want to get it all into ribbons, but if at the end the middle part is a little thicker, that's totally fine because it adds texture. do the same with the rest of your asparagus - i used one normal-sized bunch. this takes a minute to get the hang of, but it goes pretty quickly after that - the whole bunch took maybe 5 minutes.

also you should grate the cheese. i used one called "italian truffle cheese" from trader joe's, but i have seen truffle cheese elsewhere, so you should be able to find it. if it is prohibitively expensive, you can use some other kind of cheese, even good old mozzarella, but i really suggest trying to find the truffle cheese because it is really awfully good with the asparagus. i used maybe 1/4 of a pound or a little less. i also used about the same volume of parmesan - just grate some up until you have about the same amount. divide the parmesan in half and mix half with the truffle cheese and leave half to put on top of the pizza.

then grate or mince two or three garlic cloves.

you are ready to assemble!

so the dough is on a sheet with the cornmeal under it. spread it with a tablespoon or so of nice olive oil. then sprinkle the garlic evenly over it. a little sprinkle of salt and pepper would not be out of place here. then put the truffle cheese/parmesan mixture evenly over that, then fling the asparagus ribbons over the whole thing with abandon. if you are using tiny thin asparagi/uses, you can arrange them prettily or haphazardly over the ribbons. then top with the rest of the parmesan and maybe a little more salt and pepper.

stick it in the bottom of the oven for like 8 or 10 minutes. basically leave it alone for a solid 6-7 minutes, then check the bottom to see how done it looks. timing will pretty much depend on your oven, but you want it nice and brown. once it is practically done, move it up to the top rack and turn the broiler on. this gets the asparagus crispy and brown in spots, but you have to really stand there and watch it - it probably will only need a minute or so.

take it out and let it sit for a couple of minutes, add some chili flakes if you like that sort of thing, then dig in and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

it also makes a delicious cold pizza breakfast the next morning. yesssssss.


pizza dough

1/4 pound or so truffle (or other) cheese

~ 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 bunch big ol' asparagus (+ 5-10 small stalks, if using)

2-3 cloves garlic
salt, pepper, chili flakes

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