Asparagus arugula pesto pizza

Asparagus is one of the many joys of spring.  The bright green spears signify the lush bounty that will be all around us in the forthcoming months.  Enjoy this recipe for pesto based asparagus pizza that the whole family can enjoy.  The smoked cheese is really the key to these pizzas, you won't be disappointed.

Ingredients:
Naan
1 ounce smoked mozzarella cheese; cubed, sliced or grated as preferred
1-1.5 heaping tablespoon of arugula pesto (recipe follows)
Dash of: cayenne or chili pepper, ground black pepper, garlic powder
2-4 asparagus spears (thinner is better, or slice length-wise if unable to find thin spears); bottom 1" trimmed and discarded
Any other toppings you prefer: sliced sweet onions, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, meats, sweet peppers--get creative and artistic!

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375.  
2. On a pizza stone or baking sheet, place naan which will serve as the crusts.  Spread arugula pesto on top as the 'sauce', arrange asparagus and other toppings.  Top with smoked mozzarella.
3. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and just starting to brown.  You may chose to switch to broil mode for the last 5 minutes or so to brown the tops nicely.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Tips:
A variety of flavors of naan can be found at Trader Joe's: whole wheat, curry, garlic, and white.  We prefer naan over other possible crusts (flatbread, pre-made pizza crusts, dough, etc.) as it is easiest and most like thick-crust pizza after cooking--slightly crispy on the edges and doughy in the center.  Any unused portions can easily be frozen for your next meal.  If you are feeding just 2 people, the oblong/oval naan fit perfectly into a small toaster oven. Smoked mozzarella really makes this decadent and can be found at a good price at Trader Joe's as well.  Crumbled goal cheese is also tasty, but does not taste as traditional as the smoked mozzarella
.

Arugula Pesto Recipe:
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup hazelnuts (walnuts also work)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor.  Process and slowly pour olive oil in.  Serve.
2. Pesto can be frozen in small containers for at least 4 months.
 
Grilled Asparagus:
1 bunch of asparagus (thinner spears are more tasty)
1-2 tablespoons of EVOO depending on amount of asparagus
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Directions:
1. Trim off the bottom 1" of the asparagus and discard.  
2. Cut asparagus into half horizontally.  
3. In a large bowl, put all ingredients together, coating the asparagus thoroughly.
4. Using a panini press or George Foreman grill, place coated asparagus spears perpendicular to the lines of the grill and close the lid.  Occasionally rotate the spears over the next 10-15 minutes depending on size of spears and cooking method.  The spears should have small dark spots from searing on the grill and may need a fork test to confirm they are cooked to your desire.  They can also be cooked on a BBQ (preferably in a basket or foil underneath) or stove top in a skillet or other non-stick pan.

 

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