Tag pizza

Smitten Kitchen’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I wrote about Smitten Kitchen’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza in my recent round-up of asparagus recipes. Since then, I’ve been somewhat compulsively returning to the Smitten post to look at the photos, which are simply mouth-watering.

Deb — the cook, writer, and photographer behind Smitten Kitchen — shaves the asparagus with a carrot peeler and then seasons the long ribbons with olive oil, salt, and pepper. She tops the pizza crust with a bit of parmesan cheese and some mozzarella and then piles on the asparagus. Ten to fifteen minutes in the oven and a sprinkling of scallions and it’s ready.

Smitten Kitchen's Shaved Asparagus Pizza

The Cook truly appreciated the simplicity of the recipe. Shave. Season. Sprinkle. Done. The Professor’s favorite homemade pizza, in contrast, is topped with grilled shrimp and kale-walnut pesto. It’s a Professor-approved, A+ recipe. It’s also ridiculously time-consuming and The Cook sometimes feels that she’s getting one meal for the price (and effort) of three. Even a simpler pizza with wild mushrooms and, for The Professor, chicken sausage requires cooking two toppings and cleaning two pans.

Shave. Season. Sprinkle. Done.

Smitten Kitchen's Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Of course, The Professor’s grading system doesn’t account for the easy-speediness of preparation. And I am quite sad to say that the Shaved Asparagus Pizza earned a flat B. It was, he said, “perfectly tasty. And it looks great.” But it left him wanting.

“There needs to be something more,” he said. “Otherwise I just feel like I’m eating bread and vegetables and a little bit of cheese for dinner.”

“But isn’t that what pizza is — bread, tomato sauce, cheese? With maybe a little bit of meat sprinkled on top?” I countered.

“Yes, but there is meat,” he replied.

Because The Professor did like the flavor and texture, he thought it would work well as a first course for a dinner party. An interesting, seasonal appetizer. And I will try that, if only because I am looking forward to my next Shaved Asparagus Pizza.

You can see the recipe here. Stick to the recommended amount of mozzarella so that the flavor of the asparagus really comes through.


Take Back the Grill!

I don’t know when Memorial Day became a National Day of Grilling. But what was once a day of remembrance, has become a time to relax — with friends, a six-pack or two and a Weber.

If you doubt the significance of the Memorial Day barbeque, look no further than this hilarious New York Times story  about the Weber Grill hotline and its busiest week of the year. While the tale of Weber’s grill experts (who are overwhelmingly women) is my favorite cooking-related article of the weekend, grilling stories abound. And here’s what irks me: Most all of these articles ignore vegetarians — or insult them. A recent O slideshow titled “6 Inventive (and Tasty!) Takes on the Classic Burger” includes this telling line: “To come up with topping ideas for vegetarian burgers, I think of a big bowl of plain rice—what could I add to that bowl that would taste delicious?”

In other words, meatless burgers are about as tasty as a bowl of plain rice.

I guess I should give the O editors props for including a real vegetarian main course — a brown rice and lentil burger — rather than just a side dish like grilled corn.

But still. I want more. I want to take the grill back. I want backyards across the nation to fill with the scents of slowly roasting peppers, of carrots and onions — getting sweet and charred, of spicy black bean burgers, and generous slices of corn bread. I want the grill-queens at the Weber hotline to be answering questions about the right temperature for grilling cauliflower and how to stop their portobello mushrooms from drying out. Dammit, I want to hear Sarah Moose-Shooting Palin brag about Todd’s grilled asparagus!

Until then, I’m doing my little part to take back the grill.

The Professor’s sister and brother-in-law are visiting, and we fired up the Weber on the night they arrived to cook asparagus and pizza.

I admit, we did make one or two pizzas with chicken sausage for our Southern guests. I also made two with garlicky spinach and fresh ricotta. And one with sauteed wild mushrooms.

“When you make a mushroom pizza, you do not joke around,” said The Professor as he carried my portobello- and shitake-smothered pizza to the grill. He’s right. And hmmm, hmmm was it tasty.