When it comes to mushrooms, I try very hard not to be drawn into the über-fancy varieties that are available at Whole Foods and other gourmet shops because it’s too easy to start scooping them up and find myself with a bag of mushrooms that equates to half of our weekly grocery bill. It’s why I tend to stick to using a solid base of cremini mushrooms and then adding in only a little shiitake or oyster mushrooms for flavor whenever I need to make a dish that is heavy on the mushrooms.
Morels, however, are a perfect exception to my no-crazy-expensive-mushroom rule, because not only are they delicious, they also happen to fall into that category of ephemeral foods that are only available for a few weeks out of the year, thereby making them completely irresistible.
Fairway had them on sale for $10.99 a 1/4 lb., so I carefully selected a few choice specimens, made sure that I stayed well under that mark and ended up only paying a little over five dollars for the bunch. They sliced up nicely and made for a generous topping over our little pizza, and blended perfectly with the house-pulled mozzarella from Fairway. It’s a surprising and delightful way to beckon for spring, and perfect for the still-cool days that can allow for the oven to be turned onto full blast.
The other pizza we had was one Michael dreamed up himself: he deemed it a shrimp fra diavolo pizza, a twist on the classic pasta dish that is surprisingly light and therefore appropriate as a first-course pizza. We basically took our normal pizza sauce and upped the heat via crushed red pepper, then threw some shrimp on top to cook while the pizza baked. This, I think, requires some more deliberation and another try before we post a recipe–it’s simply a visual aperitivo for now.
As for the morel mushroom pizza, well, get hopping–the season doesn’t last that long, and you should definitely give this a try!
Pizza Bianca with Morel Mushrooms and Onions
- 1/2 recipe pizza dough
- 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated
- 1/8 lb morel mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
- 2-3 cipollino onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 chives, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
As always, preheat the oven on bake using the broil option on the temperature knob (aka the highest temperature you can go–but DON”T BROIL THE PIZZA), and start stretching out the dough into a 10″-ish oval. When the dough is ready, add the cheese, mushrooms, garlic, and onions; lightly season with salt and pepper and drizzle with just a little olive oil. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown. Take out, let rest, garnish with chives, slice, and serve!