The shaved asparagus craze continues! Last Saturday, my dad prepared a fine shaved asparagus salad, as seen here. It was doused in a lemony vinaigrette and crowned with dabs of goat cheese and cherry tomatoes. There was no raw edge whatsoever! A vegetable that I once only knew in its cooked form (and a lovely form it is!), asparagus has reinvented itself as a shaved and raw delicacy. Asparagus is having a (unique) moment. I will say that the shaved asparagus echoes a zucchini carpaccio I have known and loved. I will have to dig that one up again when zuke season rolls around. Any day now ...
this?), and they are tasty, but this elevated asparagus pizza to a whole new level. The shavings, plus lack of sauce, created a delicate texture and a clean taste. It was simple: asparagus, mozzarella, parmesan, green onion, and a smattering of red pepper flakes. I wavered at first on the white pizza aspect, snagging a can of marinara to bring home with me in case I felt desperate and untrusting. I am not one to respect a recipe. But sometimes I just have to take a leap of faith, and I am thankful that I did. I think the most this pizza would benefit from would be a couple halved cherry tomatoes, but even that would detract from the simplicity and clean flavors.
P.S. A quick search shows that I am, indeed, a bit tardy to the shaved asparagus party. Food & Wine featured a shaved asparagus salad in June 2003. Martha shared one in April 2007. But it's new to me, so I'm going to continue to believe that asp. v. 2.0 is a novelty.
Adapted, just barely, from Smitten Kitchen
Note: You can use your own pizza dough recipe here. This recipe makes one 12-inch pizza, so plan accordingly. Of course I prefer homemade dough, but when you get home at 8 on a work night and didn't make it in advance, that's just not part of the narrative. I used Trader Joe's dough because it has reliable, if thick, results.
pizza dough - enough for one 12-inch pizza (such as Trader Joe's prepared dough)
1 bunch asparagus, washed
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 pound mozzarella, sliced into small cubes or shredded (hint: try a low-moisture version)
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt & black pepper to taste
3 green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Pizza likes a hot blast when it goes in, so make sure it heats for at least 20 or 30 minutes; if you use a pizza stone, place it in the cold oven and then turn it on to preheat.
If your dough needs to rest for a few minutes before rolling out, do that as you prepare the asparagus. Make sure you place the dough on a well-floured surface while it rests at room temperature.
To shave the asparagus, use a vegetable peeler; hold the woody end and shave from the woody end down toward the tip in one motion, repeating to create long shavings. Any thicker remaining slices can be cut with a knife or snapped in half. Use the tips! They don't shave very well, and that is totally okay. Shave your whole bunch and place in a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste; stir using tongs. Set aside while you prepare the pizza.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch circle. Drape onto a pizza pan dusted with cornmeal or flour, or onto a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel if you will be using the pizza stone. Sprinkle the parmesan over the dough, leaving a one-inch border for the crust. Spread the mozzarella over the parmesan, then add the asparagus with your tongs. Arrange it so that most of the surface is covered. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and browning in spots, and the crust is golden brown. Let it site for 2 minutes before slicing, otherwise you will have a melty mess on your hands!