I have a long list of favorite foods. But I’m pretty sure pizza will forever remain in the #1 spot. There have been times when I order an entire pizza for myself and eat that same pizza for the next 5 days. Some pizzas are that good. I’m also not afraid to get weird with pizza. I’ll try any topping/topping combination at least once. My current obsession is a pizza Greg and I had when we were recently on vacation in Vancouver. It was called ‘The Hamilton Street’ and was topped with blue cheese, arugula, pear, walnuts, caramelized onions and balsamic glaze. Yes, I’ve been dreaming about re-creating ever since.
I have, however, always been a purist when it comes to the crust. I like a regular white flour crust. I have long resisted the cauliflower crust trend. But given the amount of cauliflower we grow each year, I had to try it. YUM! I’ll be honest, I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did (Although I kinda knew I would given the amount of cheese that also goes into the crust). I’m certainly not giving up on regular crust but it’s a great way to mix things up or maybe use some extra cauliflower.
Sadly, still no Schramm asparagus was used to make this. Normally by this time of year we are starting to pick our own asparagus but the cold just won’t go away this year! The picture above was taken yesterday and you can see it is starting to pop up. But once we have a few warm days, we’ll be rolling in it.
Asparagus is a perennial plant and the spears grow from crowns that are planted about a foot deep. An asparagus planting is typically not harvested in it’s first 2-3 years after planting so the crowns can develop a strong root system. Under ideal conditions, the spears can grow up to 10 inches in a 24-hour period. Crazy! So once it gets going, we’ll be picking almost every day. After several weeks of harvest the remaining spears will grow into ferns. These ferns will replenish the nutrient supply for next year’s crop. Our asparagus plantings generally produce for 15 years without being replanted.
I went to one of my favorite cooking blogs for a crust recipe since I had never attempted this before. I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of cheese that goes into these crusts. You’ll pulse the raw cauliflower in a food processor until you have a snow-like powder. You’ll microwave this powder and then dump it onto a clean towel to ring the water out of it. This part requires patience as you NEED to let it cool completely before ringing it. I have limited patience so I burnt my hands.
Once you’ve removed the water you’ll be left with a cauliflower pulp that you will mix with the cheeses, spices and egg. Mix with your hands until a dough forms. Place your dough ball on the lightly greased parchment paper and press into a circle. My crust ended up somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
As you’ll see in the recipe instructions, you’ll cook your crust some before adding the toppings. You’ll want to make sure you let it start to brown before topping it. The picture above was after baking it for 10 minutes and that was not enough. I put it back in for another 3-4 minutes until it was golden. On my first attempt, I topped when it looked like the photo above because I was nervous it would burn once I added the toppings. That was a mistake. The edges were crispy and delicious but the center definitely wasn’t cooked enough. So allow it to brown first. These toppings don’t take long to cook so you shouldn’t have a problem with burning.
For the asparagus ribbons simply remove the tough bottoms and the tops of each spear. Discard the bottoms but place the tops in a small bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the spears into ribbons. In the small bowl toss the tops and ribbons with olive oil, salt and pepper.
I love garlic but not raw garlic. So if you feel the same way, here’s an extra, but easy, step. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a small skillet and add your minced garlic. Cook for about 1 minute and drain your garlic on a paper towel to remove most of the oil. Yes, the garlic will cook when you put the pizza in the oven but not enough for me. Then you simply mix the ricotta, parmesan, garlic and basil until well combined and top your partially cooked crust. Bake for about 10 minutes and top with lemon!
This just looks like spring right?
Asparagus Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
- Serves 2
- Prep Time 15 minutes
- Cook Time 20 minutes
1 small head cauliflower
¼ cups parmesan cheese
¼ cups mozzarella cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 whole egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
¼ pound asparagus
1 teaspoon oil olive
Salt and pepper
DirectionsPreheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza stone or baking sheet in oven to warm. Spray a large sheet of parchment paper with nonstick cooking oil.
Roughly chop cauliflower and then pulse in your food processor until you get a cauliflower powder. You want to have about 3 cups total. Place the cauliflower in the microwave for 4 minutes. Dump the cooked cauliflower onto a clean towel and allow to cool.
Once cool, wring as much water out of the cauliflower as possible. Place the cauliflower in a bowl and add parmesan, mozzarella, salt, basil, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flake and egg. Mix with your hands until a dough comes together. Form the dough into a crust on the parchment paper. Carefully slide parchment paper onto hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Remove from oven.
While your crust bakes, prepare your topping. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus length-wise into thin ribbons. Discard the tough bottoms but keep the tips. Toss asparagus ribbons and tips with olive oil, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, garlic and basil.
Assemble your topping on the partially baked crust – spread your ricotta mixture evenly over the crust stopping ¼ - ½ inch from the edge. Place the shaved asparagus and tips evenly on top. Return the pizza to the oven and cook for an additional 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with lemon juice. Slice and serve.