Pizza Margherita; asparagus with morels – 11 June 2011

I knew we would be out of bread, and that I would probably have lunch at the farmers’ market (Himalayan! Super!) while D was doing a small show. I decided not to make bread for dinner, but instead to consider it another pizza opportunity.

I had several aliquots of Margherita sauce in the freezer, and also a 1/3 recipe of dough, with about 1/4 whole wheat. I bought a Gustosella Mozzarella di Bufalo at the Cheese Board yesterday (having figured this out in advance). I’m trying out making smaller pizzas – 1/3 recipe of crust rather than 1/2 – so we have room for veggies, and had bought several possibilities at the Bowl. When I ran into morels at the farmers’ market (Center Street, Berkeley) today, I settled on asparagus with morels – and wow, was that good! See below.

Pizza: I defrosted the crust by setting the freezer container in warm water in a closed saucepan (warm environment, not just warm water) and flipped over the dough when the bottom defrosted. I forgot it and it totally rose in the little container. I rounded it up and put it into an oiled bowl, covered with my usual piece of plastic wrap (no reason to toss it between pizzas) on a sunny counter. I stretched out the crust and let it sit while the oven preheated, and then poked it with a fork all over and cooked it about 1 1/2 minutes at 500 degrees. Painted on about 1/2 cup (didn’t measure – this is from memory) Margherita sauce from a batch made for a previous pizza – salted the sauce a bit before use as I remembered it was not salty enough. An hour before making the pizza I cut up the ball of fresh mozz, halving it and then cutting each half into 5-6 half-moon slices. I left these on a cutting board, and they drained considerably before I added them to the pizza. Getting rid of some liquid is important when using fresh mozz in a pizza. I baked this for 6 minutes, tossed on some small basil leaves, and served it.

But before that… I cleaned the 1/4 lb. morels with a mushroom brush, rotating it so as to loosen anything that might be caught in the indentations of the mushrooms. I cut off tough stalk ends, and quartered or halved (tiny) mushrooms, and then cooked them 5 minutes in perhaps 1 1/2 Tbsp butter. I had steamed the asparagus (moderately thin ones) for 5 minutes, and then tossed them in with the morels, added a bit more butter, and tossed them about for a bit.

When they were ready to eat, I plated them and put the decorated pizza in the oven so it could have its 6 min cook while we ate our lovely veggie. This was a great arrangement: the two dishes really had nothing to say to each other, but each was excellent in its own right, and this way they got to stand on their own.

D brought up an old friend, Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2007). It was very very slightly corked, so we used a technique told to us by our friend M: mix the wine with plastic wrap and the cork will go away. This was effective, and it made us happy because we really enjoy this wine.


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