a.) I was exhauted, and
b.) Most of our meals for the days that followed involved leftovers, so there was nothing new in the kitchen to report.
But today is a new day, and now that I'm finished making recipes from old world Europe I can get back to creating some dishes of my own. Being the beginning of Spring, everyone is agog over asparagus recipes, and I confess, I'm no different. Here's a dish I came up with, inspired by a cream of asparagus soup that Brendan used to make:
Asparagus Flatbread Pizza with Sherry Cream Sauce
(Makes approximately two 9-inch pizzas)
Note: I'm going to split this recipe into two pieces: I made the Rosemary Flatbread from scratch and I think that deserves its own post. For this post I'll focus on the two pizza-centric parts. So you may go ahead and use store bought flatbread (as long as it has rosemary!!!), or make your own. Your choice.
Ingredients (Sherry Cream):
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp sherry
- 1 tbsp vegetable stock (or water)
- salt and pepper to taste
Preparation of the Sherry Cream Sauce base:
The sauce base begins with a traditional roux. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour until combined. Add the chopped onions, cook for 2 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and continue cooking and whisking until the mixture begins to brown but not blacken, about 5 minutes.
Add vegetable stock and sherry and let the mixture simmer for another minute, still whisking, then add the heavy cream. Reduce to a low heat and let the mixture simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes, whisking often to mix it and test the consistency. The final product should be a thick pasty sauce. If it's runny at all, continue simmering.
- 8-10 fresh asparagus stalks
- 12 sun-dried tomato halves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Wash the asparagus stalks. Holding the stalks by their bases, shave each one into slivers using a vegetable peeler. This seems to be a trendy technique on food blogs, but it very helpfully ensures that the asparagus stays tender as it cooks in the oven.
To top the pizza, begin by brushing the fresh flatbread with olive oil, and spooning on the sherry cream sauce, as shown above. Arrange the asparagus slivers and press them down into the cream sauce. Then add the sun-dried tomato halves, salt, and pepper.
Place the flatbread pizzas on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the flatbread become golden brown and the asparagus slivers blacken just a bit. Let cool for 5 minutes after baking, then slice and serve.
The flavor stars of this dish -besides asparagus- are the sherry and the rosemary (baked into the flatbread). In my opinion, those are irreplaceable ingredients, and if you don't use them, you're making a different dish. It all works together to create a fantastic blend of sweet and savory. Texture-wise, the flour in the roux for the sauce almost bakes it into the flatbread while it's in the oven, creating a creamy topping that's at once a sauce and part of the bread beneath. Lovely.
Tip: If you do add grated parmesan, I would serve it at the table. The flavor is great, but it can burn in the oven if you sprinkle it on the pizza before baking.
And while everyone's got asparagus on the brain, check out a friend-of-a-friend's blog, Big Red At Home for her tips on making Proper Asparagus, including how to buy the freshest, best-tasting spears.