Morel Mushroom, Leek and Shallot Pizza

It was not until a week ago when I tasted morel mushrooms for the first time. Chef Aaron at Pheasant Bonanza prepared it, and it was delicious, sautéed in butter, rosemary, onions and served with thickly sliced prosciutto. While morel mushroom hunting has been hot in the Omaha area, my friends and I haven't had much success up here in Northeast Nebraska.  Fortunately for me, I was in the Lincoln area the following weekend to visit Rick's family and his cousin Tyler gave me a few mushrooms he found on his parents' property. 
It was enough for a single serving, a small side with dinner. Having already enjoyed it sautéed in butter, I wanted to try something different, to stretch the four mushrooms I had even further. That's when I thought of pizza, and I'm glad I did because it was amazingly good. You can follow the ingredients and directions here exactly, or make your own variation of this pizza. Whatever you do, try to stick with lighter tasting ingredients. Morel mushrooms are mild; the last thing you want to do is drown out its delicate flavor with something over powering. 

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 4-5 large morel mushrooms
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 3 tbs. of butter
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, snipped
- a splash of white wine
- 1 leek stalk, sliced and washed thoroughly
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- mozzarella cheese (however much you want)
- parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated (however much you want)
- 2 tbs. of artichoke antipasto spread
- 1 tsp. of chives, chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- thin pizza crust, store bought or homemade

1. Preheat oven according to packaged pizza crust directions. I used Boboli. 

Slice the white and light green parts of leeks and wash thoroughly. Leeks tend to accumulate sand between its layers. 
Heat 1 tbs. of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add sliced leeks, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn. 
2. Brush off any visible dirt on morel mushrooms. DO NOT WASH IN WATER. Cut into bite sized pieces. Mushrooms are like sponges. If you wash them in water, it will ruin the taste and texture. 

In a sauté pan, heat 2 tbs. of butter over medium-high heat. Add mushroom to hot butter and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Stir frequently. 
Add shallots, thyme and a splash of white wine, stirring frequently. Cook until wine evaporates. Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Take off heat and set aside.
3. Slice mozzarella cheese, assuming you bought a block. 
Spread artichoke antipasto onto pizza crust. I bought mine from Trader Joe's, but you can use whatever brand or variation you like. 
Lay mozzarella slices over the spread, then leeks and morel mushroom-shallot mixture.
Grate parmigiano-reggiano over pizza and cracked pepper, to taste.

Bake according to packaged pizza crust directions or until cheese is fully melted. I like to bake pizza directly on the oven rack to get the crust more crispy.
When pizza is done, grate more parmigiano-reggiano on top. Sprinkle chopped chives over pizza. Enjoy!


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