I wait for spring like a dog waits for its owner to come home from work—face pressed up against the window, imagining all the fun we'll have when it finally returns. Our new backyard is just a big ol' slab of concrete, but I have plans. The flower plants and seeds have been ordered. I'm narrowing in on a patio set and outdoor rug. I've sketched out the dimensions for a DIY raised bed vegetable garden. This space will be green, I tell you . . . if only warm weather will ever get here. In the meantime, I'll just have to make do with this oyster mushroom pizza, which embodies the mineral and bright-green flavors that remind me of the coming season.
The best way I can describe this mushroom pizza is with a quick exercise. Quiet your brain and imagine that you're walking through a park on a drizzly springtime morning. The rain is so light that you don't even need an umbrella. As you walk, the wind picks up just enough to waft the aromas of wet soil and brand-new green shoots into the air. Oh, and suddenly there's a floral scent, too, probably from buds on a nearby tree.
Whenever I crave spring flavors, mushrooms are one of the first ingredients I reach for. There's just nothing better to evoke that warm, mineral flavor of fresh soil. And for this ultra springy mushroom pizza, I went with two layers of green: spinach for something mellow and a little sweet, and fresh chives for that oniony, raw-green vibe. Paprika added a punch of color and a little interest, like that sudden, unexpected whiff of flowers.
It might not make spring come any sooner, but a slice of this beauty will at least take the edge off while we wait.
Oyster Mushroom Pizza with Paprika and Chives
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 oyster mushroom clusters broken/chopped into 1 to 2-inch pieces
- 1 large garlic clove minced or pressed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 handful baby spinach
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- sweet paprika for sprinkling
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (or more as desired)
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone/steel in the oven before you start preheating).
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are just tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and remove the pan from the heat.
- Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12-inch circle, then transfer it to an oiled baking sheet or a floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, making sure to get all the way to the edges. Scatter the mushrooms evenly on top, followed by the spinach. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind or two of black pepper, then add the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with paprika. (Make sure you don't add clumps of paprika; hold the jar about 6 inches above the pizza and sprinkle as evenly as you can in a zig-zag pattern.) Drizzle with the cream.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned in spots, 8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 6 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with the chives. Wait about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.