Tastes like spring! Fresh grassy tangles of tender asparagus shavings; wafer-thin slices of barely ripe tomato; crispy, chewy, gloriously additive little tidbits of pancetta and the soft bite of green onion all muddled up with tangy feta, a toss of golden olive oil, plenty of fresh cracked black pepper with a goodly amount of melty mozzarella. Yes please.
A rather brilliant idea, if I do say so myself that was inspired by Deb, of one of my fave food blogs, The Smitten Kitchen. Once again Deb fired my jets, but as I started creating, this pizza took on a life of it's own and just flew together. I love when that happens. Sometimes, when the stars are aligned, magic happens in the kitchen and a new dish or creation just come together like they've been waiting for you to make it happen all along. This pizza is one of those.
Usually I make pizza dough in my breadmaker, but this time around I hit Valoroso, our rather fantastico local Italian grocery-deli for premade, ultra thin, brick-oven style pizza crusts. This won't be the last time I stock up on those pizza crusts, either. Yum-O.
On top of all that, shaving asparagus, though just a tich tedious, is fun. Really it is. And the resulting tendrils of veggie goodness look cool, taste even better and make you feel rather clever.
But wait, it's even funner and cleverer to toss a sublime salad smack-dab on top of a pizzeria style crust layered with a hearty scattering of grated mozzarella and slip the whole damn thing into the oven until meltingly irresistible.
This time around I served this bubbly pie of deliciousness as an appy before a pasta course. Clever!!
SHAVED ASPARAGUS, TOMATO AND PANCETTA PIZZA
1 thin 14-15 inch pizza crust
3/4 pound fresh asparagus
5 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkling of sea salt
Several grinds of black pepper
4 cups good quality mozzarella, grated
2 firm, just ripe tomatoes, halved then sliced very thin
1/3 pound pancetta, diced, fried til just crispy chewy
Prepare asparagus: No need to snap off the 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, but any old peeler will do), create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks and no worries if some pieces are thicker, or some break off before you've finished shaving them, if need be tear the thickies up a bit and be done with it as the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Toss peelings with sliced green onions, minced garlic, feta, lemon zest and juice and olive oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, toss gently and have a taste to make sure you know what you've been missing up til now. You'll be happy you did.
Preheat oven to 450F. Plunk pizza crust onto a large (12' x 17') baking sheet, I cut an inch or so off two edges of my crust and laid them on the sheet snugged up to the rest of the crust so there was no overhang. Top crust with about 2/3 of the grated mozzarella. Pile the asparagus mixture on top, then the tomato slices and tasty little pancetta tidbits. Scatter the rest of the mozzarella on top and slip this baby into the hot oven. Bake pizza 12-18 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and happy. Remove from oven, slice and eat.