Spring vegetable pizza to grow on

Maturity is not all it’s cracked up to be. Except for the spring veggie pizza. It’s a pie worth growing old for.

mushroom and asparagus pizza

Maturity is sneaking up on me. I am not a big fan.

I’m not talking about the trappings of adulthood — kids, mortgage, CVS card, stand mixer. Those have been around for a while. They’re pretty hard to miss, and they’re generally pretty harmless. But recently a number of more insidious grownup behaviors have started lurking in my shadow. Perhaps this partial list of things I’ve been craving lately will clarify my meaning:

  • To be home to put out the garbage on garbage night
  • Freshly painted baseboard moldings
  • One uninterrupted night of sleep
  • To not be at a bar, or, really, walk past one, on Cinco de Mayo
  • Pesto (but only when I really let my hair down)

Also, there’s the existence of the bulleted list itself, by way of explanation.

I know! I’m almost too hot to touch. Perez Hilton, if you’re thinking about cyberstalking me, hold on a sec. Consider this: twenty-year-old me would not have stopped to give me the time of day.

Twenty-year-old me worked evenings at the independent student pizza place on campus. Sometimes she would get an order for a pizza with “less cheese.” No cheese she could understand — the world has its vegans and its allergies. But less cheese? What are you allergic to, joie de vivre? A bit of a people pleaser, a bit of a decent human being, she would make that pie to order without complaint. But on the inside, she would shudder, fearing the worst — that the pizza would be eaten slowly, soberly, even (gasp) with a knife and fork. She always went home a little sadder on those nights.

I liked that girl. She wasn’t afraid to dish out judgment by the slice for minimum wage (or what I would’ve considered minimum wage until I started raising kids and writing for a “living”). She got along well with her sister, whose proudly proclaimed number two of 25 Facebook Things was “If you woke me up at 4 a.m. and offered me some sausage lasagna, I would eat it.” She made pizzas with extra cheese and ate them with her hands. She considered Cinco de Mayo a holiday. Whatever happened to her, anyway?

Well, friend, I hope you weren’t just asking to be polite, because I’m fixin to tell ya. When I was practicing law at a Very Big Firm in the Very Big City with Very Long Hours for a Very Few Years, I used to imagine that she’d packed up and moved to Portland, Oregon. She’d made friends with a few local farmers, and when the fresh raw milk started pouring in too quickly to feed just her barefoot, golden-skinned children, she’d opened a little shop with pissaladières and chaussons aux pommes, good coffee and free wi-fi. In the late evenings, maybe she wrote a little, or just sat on the porch with Bizarro Umami Boy and had a good laugh and a glass of wine from the Willamette Valley.

Turns out the Portland part was pretty close to right, although it was the one in Maine, and about 80 miles to the northeast. And she didn’t live in Rockland, but she did visit one summer almost a decade ago. While she was there, she had dinner at the now-famous Primo Restaurant, which had only just opened the season before. Everyone else was talking about the other up-and-coming Maine restaurant, Fore Street, and she liked that, too, and can even remember what she ate — but it didn’t speak to her in the voices of the Sirens, or inspire a mad pizzette-making frenzy in her tiny apartment kitchen in the ensuing weeks, or change the trajectory of her life. Primo, though, did.

Yes it did.

If, eight years later, you can still hear the sound of your car tires crunching along a gravel driveway, still smell the herbaceous notes wafting through warm, pristine evening air, still feel crystalline flecks of salty Parmigiano offering momentary resistance against your teeth, you’ve been changed. And that pizza, the best of your life, with thin prosciutto and lightly dressed baby arugula and just a touch of shaved Parmigiano — yup, that pizza with less cheese — is the least of it.

If this website were a better-run establishment, I’d be sharing the recipe for that little pizza in this post. Someday soon, when our CSA delivers baby arugula, I promise I will. Today, though, you’ll have to settle for something almost as good, with loads of roasted asparagus, tarragon- and parsley-flecked mushrooms, and, of course, just a little cheese.

mushroom and asparagus pizza slice



  • Not having acquired a pizza stone (or several other trappings of adulthood), I’ve done a little pizzamaking in a cast iron pan. It works ok and probably gets hotter than a sheet pan. Should I spring for the stone?

    This pizza looks lovely, and the post is beautifully written. Tarragon on a pizza sure is grown up.ReplyCancel

  • we’ve been making pizza almost every week with what we’ve got for spring like toppings!

    i noticed you like the herbfarm cookbook. have you been there? i was there a couple months ago and it was amazing.ReplyCancel

  • I _lurrrve_ this post.

    Maggie, my large family obliges me to make two pies every time I make pizza: one in my wedding-present cast iron pan and one on the stone. Psst! I like the pan pizzas better.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie and MomVee, thank you! I love it so much when people talk to each other in comments. Although now I’m sort of sad to have a pizza stone. Maggie, I would say they’re fun to register for but a real bitch to store. Last night I preheated the broiler forgetting the stone was in the oven and ended up broiling some eggs in ramekins, on a pan, on the stone, about 2 feet from the heat. So there’s that in the “con” column.

    Michaela, I have yet to make it to the Herbfarm, but I am becoming increasingly obsessed with the Pacific Northwest and love taking food-inspired vacations. So it’s only a matter of time.ReplyCancel

  • FWIW, although I’m not big on my stone for pizza, it’s outstanding for making naan.ReplyCancel

  • I love putting asparagus on my pizzas! What a beautiful post.

    Pizzas are by far my favorite food to create. A blank canvas of dough fuels my imagination. This creativity is such a non-linear process for me that it makes these pizzas my least favorite recipes to write out.ReplyCancel

  • Your pizza looks amazing!! I love the white wine and fresh tarragon. Of course your photos are awesome!!ReplyCancel

  • hello – my first time on your site….loving it! And this pizza looks fantastic…will be making this!ReplyCancel

  • Jill

    C –
    I don’t really know what to say except that I LOVE YOU! :) I LOVE your post… I LOVE your Pizza! I want your Pizza… NOW… for breakfast! I refuse to grow up! LOL!
    See you soon!

  • Great story, Carolyn, and beautiful pizza! You may have just shamed me into making my own crust instead of letting Whole Foods do it [although at $2.50 a pop to save the time, effort and preplanning, maybe not quite yet]. Regarding your signs of maturity sneaking up on you, the judgmental young woman in the pizza place reminds me of a great line in an old Bob Dylan song: “But I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”ReplyCancel

  • Oh, thank you so much for all the nice comments.

    Terry, the fact that something I wrote reminded someone of Dylan, for whatever reason, probably means I should close up shop right now while I’m ahead. Also, that way I wouldn’t have to worry as much about the impact on my credibility when I say that we like that frozen Whole Foods pizza dough a lot, too, and use it sometimes. I’d even go so far as to say that we were pretty proud of ourselves for discovering it. Shh.ReplyCancel

  • Hi Carolyn, our storage for our stone is easy. We just leave it in our oven all the time at our studio.

    One problem though is it always smells like dough or pizza when we pre-heat the oven for “other” foods. Oh what a let down when looking in oven expecting a pizza.

    BTW, nice looking pizzaReplyCancel

  • […] She had us at hello. Quite literally the first thing we noticed about this week’s Recipe of the Week winner was her name- “Umami Girl.” […]ReplyCancel

  • That’s a nice little pizza for grown ups. Not too keen on the heavily laden soggy calorie bombs anymore.ReplyCancel

  • […] blogged this recipe here. It looks awesome! You can inspire others to make your tasty food by joining the IFA Food Porn […]ReplyCancel

  • Came here for the first time via IFA.

    Great site, Carolyn. I’ve bookmarked it.

    That pizza sounds delicious–and looks beautiful! I plan on making it very soon.ReplyCancel

  • I am making a version of this tonight! But instead of mushrooms (which I somehow don’t ever think I will like unless they are soaked in butter) I am adding goat cheese and fingerling potatoes (inspired by BA Mag). Glad I found your site:) You can thank Maggie from Pithy and Cleaver.ReplyCancel

  • […] Unami Girl made an asparagus and mushroom pizza […]ReplyCancel

  • Welcome, new commenters, and thank you!

    Bic, I love the IFA. So glad you’re enjoying this site as well.

    Anticiplate, I saw that recipe in BA after posting this and almost made it on Mother’s Day. Next time! Thanks for the link.ReplyCancel

  • Wilma Klinedinst

    I was hungry for pizza last week. After spotting the fresh asparagus in the fridge, I started wondering if anyone had some inspiration for an asparagus pizza. That google found the best pizza my husband had ever had and your website, which I adore. Humor and good food are my favorites!ReplyCancel

  • Hi Wilma, thanks for visiting! I’m so glad you liked the pizza.ReplyCancel

  • Amazing post Carolyn! I stumbled across it looking for a pizza with lots of mushrooms. I’ll be making something similar tonight, thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Keep up the good work. It looks like there’s more depth here for future posts.ReplyCancel

  • There are actually quite a lot of particulars like that to take into consideration. That could be a nice point to carry up. I supply the ideas above as normal inspiration however clearly there are questions like the one you convey up where an important thing will likely be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Both boys and girls really feel the impression of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.ReplyCancel

  • Thankyou for all your efforts that you have put in this. very interesting info .ReplyCancel

  • pomoc prawna

    Das war wie ein hilfreicher Artikel! Ich bin gerade erst mit meinem Blog und ich hoffe, es wird so gut wie Ihre. Grüße!ReplyCancel

  • Excellent post. I was checking continuously this weblog and I’m inspired! Very useful information specially the ultimate phase :) I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.ReplyCancel

  • […] is a real thing. Word to the wise and Argentinian: this is not spaghetti with beef stew.), Spring Vegetable Pizza (and one of my favorite posts from the early days of Umami Girl), and Date-Night Roasted Shrimp […]ReplyCancel

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *