Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Pesto

Ramps are one of the culinary delicacies of spring, and I've tried to make the most of this fleeting wild vegetable this year. Recipes for ramps are certainly not as numerous as many other vegetables and I've mostly made pasta dishes using ramps, since that is the most plentiful category of recipes. For what may be my final ramp dish of the year, I adapted a pesto recipe from Bon Appetit for this decadent pizza, although it would also be spectacular on pasta or a panini. The fresh, green flavor of the ramps works perfectly with hearty, earthy mushrooms and rich and salty cheese, all of which I found at my local farmer's market. Although pizza is often a kid-friendly food, this is a quite strongly flavored pesto, and probably not suitable for the pint-size set, or anyone who likes their food mildly-flavored. But for all of you with an adventurous palate, I strongly recommend whipping up a batch of this supremely savory pesto before ramps completely disappear for the season for this unique pizza.

Mushroom Pizza with Ramp Pesto

serves 4

1/2 cup olive oil, divided  
2/3 cup thinly sliced trimmed ramp bulbs and slender stems plus 3 cups thinly sliced green tops (from about 8 ounces ramps)  
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  
1/3 cup toasted almonds   
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12-inch whole wheat pizza crust
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I like shiitake or cremini)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2/3 cup ramp bulbs and stems to skillet and sauté just until soft but not browned, reducing heat if necessary to prevent browning, about 5 minutes. Transfer sautéed ramps to processor. Add green tops, cheese, and almonds to processor; process until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add remaining oil and puree until almost smooth. Transfer pesto to bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

2. Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Spread 3/4 to 1 cup of the ramp pesto even over the pizza crust, reserving the rest for later use (you'll have about 1 1/2 cups total). Spread mushrooms evenly over crust and top with mozzarella cheese.

3. Bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown 8 to 12 minutes. Let stand for a couple of minutes, then slices and serve hot.

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