As I walked into the small store, they were sitting on the farmstand checkout counter, nestled in a simple still-life setting of freshly-picked produce. Framed in a wooden box among green onions, spinach, and garlic chives, the small bunch of bright red radishes sat glistening and waiting, ready for their close-up. Radishes are one of those vegetables that I haven’t typically purchased in the past, but the alluring color intrigued me, and so I bought the radishes, along with a thick bundle of garlic chives, milk and eggs, and headed home.
The next night we made one of those meals where everything just kind of falls together, in a very good way, from bits and pieces of food you have sitting in the refrigerator. A cream sauce with lemon zest made use of the chives I’d bought at the farm; we drizzled it over Alaskan salmon and asparagus and brown rice. After dinner, as I packaged the leftover cream sauce, I thought about re-using it on a pizza crust. Then I remembered those radishes I’d bought, and gradually the idea for a pizza began to form.
I admit I’m still a novice when it comes to preparing radishes. Lucky for me, after an attempt at pan-roasting, a smoky kitchen, and mushy radishes, the community of home cooks at Food52 came to the rescue with “7 Ways to Use Spring Radishes”. I briefly read each recipe for suggestions on how to prepare radishes. I then decided to use the less smoky, no-over-heated-oil-spewing pan-required technique of oven roasting. Bueno. On a neutral background, brushed with lemon-tinged cream sauce, layered with swirled shapes of sautéed shrimp, bright hues of roasted radishes and scattered flecks of chives, this pizza is my own still-life portrait of the generosity of the season.
Spring Pizza with Lemon Cream Sauce, Shrimp, Radishes and Chives
follow the recipe for this whole wheat pizza crust
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of radishes with greens (about 6-8 radishes)
24 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
splash of white wine
4 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese (a little over 1 cup)
1 tablespoon garlic chives, minced
Begin preparing the dough for the whole wheat pizza crust about an hour and a half before you plan to eat.
While the pizza dough is developing, make the lemon cream sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Whisk in the white wine and lemon zest, and then slowly whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken, then add the chicken stock, a little at a time, until sauce has the thickness you prefer. You may not need to add the entire amount of chicken stock, but also bear in mind that the sauce will thicken some as it cools, so reserve any extra chicken stock in case the sauce becomes too thick after it cools. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate sauce until ready to use on the pizza.
Set the top oven rack in the middle of the oven. Place the lower rack a couple of spaces below that. Place the pizza stone on the lower rack. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Wash and dry the radishes and their greens. Remove the greens from the radishes, trim the stems, and set them aside for sautéeing with shrimp. Cut the radishes into quarters, and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter, melted, and 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the radishes on a baking sheet, place on the middle rack in the oven, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly tender when pierced with a fork. Remove and set aside. Carefully move the pizza stone, using sturdy oven mitts, to the upper rack in the middle of the oven. Turn the oven up to 500ºF.
When the oven is ready, shape the pizza dough following the directions from the whole wheat pizza crust recipe, and bake for three minutes in the oven. Remove and place the crust on cooling racks so the crust doesn’t become soggy, also removing the parchment paper from underneath the crust.
Heat a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining butter and oil to the pan, and add the shrimp once the butter and oil are sizzling. Sauté for several seconds until the shrimp are heated and begin to turn color. De-glaze with the white wine, and cook until shrimp just begin to turn pink on both sides. Remove pan from heat and add the radish greens, stirring until just wilted. Add lemon juice and toss with shrimp and greens. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Remove shrimp and greens to a separate plate. Grate the mozzarella cheese.
Remove the lemon cream sauce from the refrigerator and spread about 1/4 cup over the entire pizza crust. Place the shrimp and wilted greens evenly over the crust. Place the roasted radishes evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the crust, and top with the minced chives. Using a pizza peel, place the prepared pizza in the oven on the pizza stone, turn the oven to broil, and bake, checking every minute or so, until cheese begins to bubble and slightly brown in spots. Remove from oven with pizza peel and place on a large cutting board or protected countertop. Slice into eight pieces and serve.
Makes one 13 to 14-inch pizza