Morel, Asparagus, and Pancetta Pizza

naan-pizzaSuddenly, it’s April. No one I know can quite figure out how we got here already, but hey, it’s the fourth month of the year.

Spring has sprung, and so have morel mushrooms. Morels should be cooked before being eaten, and many people enjoy them sauteed in butter with a bit of salt and pepper. I’m all about sauteing mushrooms in butter — and I did that as part of my preparation — but I thought a pizza that showcased the first flavors of spring would be just perfect. Along with morels, the first asparagus is presenting its green, tender shoots. With the warmer weather, Pennyroyal Farm is also back to making their Laychee cheese, the light, fluffy stuff that they make from new milk. To finish off the flavors, this pizza-of-the-spring was put on a “crust” of garlic naan, given a white sauce cover, and graced with some pancetta. It was incredibly delicious. Pair it with Pennyroyal’s sister ranch, Navarro Vineyard’s, Pinot Noir (2011 was a very good year) and toast the fresh, new world.

Morel, Asparagus, and Pancetta Pizza


Serves 4

White Sauce
1 pat of butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
dash of white pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1⁄4 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shredded

2 pieces garlic naan
8 asparagus tips
6 pieces of pancetta
3 morels, sliced thinly and sauteed in butter
12 dollops of Laychee cheese (or chevre)
balsamic vinegar (in a spritzer if you have one)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
On the stove top, put milk and butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Stir until flour is mixed thoroughly. Mix in white pepper and garlic. Add cheese and remove from heat. Whisk until cheese is melted and set aside while you cook the morels.
Place naan on a pizza stone, pizza pan, or cookie sheet. Spread white sauce evenly over each piece. Place pancetta on top, then follow by scattering the asparagus and morels. Dollop each naan with the cheese, placing strategically so each bite will have some gooey goodness.
Put naan pizzas in the oven and cook seven to 10 minutes or until the asparagus begins to brown. After about five minutes of the pizzas being in the oven, spritz the tops with balsamic vinegar.
Cut each pizza in pieces and serve right away.

Gluten-free Pizza

Gluten free pizza slice I had been noticing for quite awhile that when I ate bread, my joints would ache, and it kept getting progressively worse. It didn’t matter if it was organic, sprouted wheat bread or crappy French rolls from Sysco. First my left wrist would swell, then my knuckles, and finally my right elbow. Then my whole body would begin to HURT, I’d stiffen up, and it would be hard to move. Such negative reinforcement made me switch to a gluten-free diet pretty quickly, and I started to read “Wheat Belly” to get some answers.

While most of my meals are whole foods — lots of vegetables, some meat, some rice — sometimes, I crave comfort food. I’ve been investigating alternatives to some of my favorites. Keep in mind, I find these processed alternatives to be treats, so they’re not a regular feature of my meals. But sometimes, you just gotta have a piece of pizza.

gluten free crust For my first venture into the gluten-free world of pizza crust, I decided to go store bought. I’ll probably make a crust the next time, but it was a pretty tasty option. The texture, being rice, was interesting, both crispy and chewy, but it made for a good dinner.

Here’s my process:

Ingredients:

Chevre, pepper jack (shredded), and small mozzarella balls
extra virgin olive oil
pesto
nitrite-free salami
orange bell pepper (sliced)
portobello mushroom cap (sliced)
basil leaves
roasted red pepper flakes
garlic powder
Roma tomato
pizza crust

Ready for the ovenPreheat oven to 500 degrees. (You’ll be turning it down a tad once you put the pizza in the oven.)

Brush top of crust with olive oil. Spread a nice layer of pesto to almost the very edge of the crust. Follow with the pepper jack, crumble on the Chevre, layer the salami, mushroom, and bell pepper on top of the cheese. Next, cover the pizza with basil leaves and sprinkle with the mozzarella balls. Shake with a generous amount of the pepper flakes and garlic powder, and then follow the instructions on the box for cooking temperature and time.

While pizza cooks, slice tomato thinly. Once pizza is finished, layer the tomato slices on top of the cheesy goodness, and chomp away.

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