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March 21, 2010

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Recipe: sausage, egg and asparagus pizza)

Sausage, egg and asparagus pizza 

In the house where I grew up, we ate spaghetti sauce made from a packet, topped with "parmesan cheese" shaken from a green cardboard cylinder.

I'm not saying it wasn't good -- especially with my mother's giant meatballs, which she made from actual beef -- just that I didn't grow up with the real thing.

My first taste of authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese came much later in life, and now, even when I make my family's favorite Buddy Lasagne with sauce from a jar, I top it with real parm. (Yes, I call it parm. We are on intimate terms, this cheese and I.)

Recognizable by the distinctive dotted pattern of words on the rind, Parmigiano-Reggiano tastes a bit nutty, salty, and gritty, without any bitterness or aftertaste. Shards of real parm will melt on the back of your tongue.

And the best part is that, after the cheese is gone, the rinds have a second life as the magic ingredient that adds richness and character to the flavor of vegetable and bean soups.

What is Parmigiano-Reggiano?
A cow's milk cheese, aged for one to two years, produced in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Protected by both trademark and D.O.P. designation, Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard cheese, perfect for grating, shaving, or eating in chunks cleaved off the wheel.

How/where to store?
Wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Once a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano is cut open, the cheese doesn't have a very long shelf life; it will last for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Save the rinds for soup, in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer.

More facts about Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ingredient photos, on The Perfect Pantry:
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Recipe: risotto with grapefruit)

Sausage, egg and asparagus pizza

Sausage, egg and asparagus pizza

The first time I made this, on regular pizza dough, it was filling. Too filling. On my favorite oat-bran pita breads, these pizzas are lighter, with a crispy crust, perfect for breakfast or a quick weeknight supper. Substitute any type of sausage, spicy or mild. Make one pizza per person.

Ingredients

For a single serving:
1 link of hot Italian turkey sausage
1 8-inch pita oat-bran or whole wheat pita bread
2-3 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
2 spears asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
A pinch of dried thyme leaf or fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
1 large egg

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

On the stove top, heat a small nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casing into the frying pan (discard the casing). Cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the meat is lightly browned all over. Remove from the pan.

Set the pita bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, then the sausage, asparagus and thyme. Top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, then a bit of black pepper.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven (do not turn the oven off).

Without breaking the yolk, carefully crack the egg into a small bowl. Then slide the egg onto the center of the pizza. Return the pizza to the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the egg white is just set and the yolk is still runny. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with more pepper, and serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Broccoli and cauliflower sformatino
Spinach, golden raisin and parmesan tart
Pasta with clams and vegetable sauce
Caesar salad with shrimp
Turkey escarole soup

Other recipes that use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese:
Air popped popcorn with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, from Christine Cooks
Strawberry rhubarb parmesan crisp, from No Recipes
Parmigiano Reggiano stuffed onions wrapped in prosciutto de Parma, from Ms. Adventures in Italy
Fresh goat cheese ravioli, from East Village Kitchen
Parmesan fricos, from Yumsugar

Comments

I normally use Grana Padano cheese instead of Parmigiano Reggiano. Grana Padano is very simliar in taste and quality, and quite a bit cheaper than the real Parmigiano. Like Parmigiano, it is produced since the 12th century, and protected by DOP designation.

That is by far the sexiest pizza I've seen in years. I could devour that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And please pass the Reggiano. My favorite cheese of all time.

Yummy! I'm not much of an egg eater, but I'm going to have to give this recipe a try.

I have been craving things with eggs on them lately. I hadn't thought of pizza!!

I love your pizza. I love the description in the above comment; yes, a "sexy" pizza. ;-)

Paz

Silly me: I read the recipe several times and can't find when to put the sausage on the pita crust -- with the egg?

I love good authentic cheese. My personal favorite is Romano - MMMMMM. We have a good authentic Italian store in Cleveland, whenever I get up there I invest in some good cheese (yes invest is the proper term when you're spending so much per pound).

I love the idea of pizza on a pita crust with egg and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Just mouth watering!

I love the egg on the pizza. And thanks to Gregor for the tip on the less expensive Parm... (I make a similar substitute with prosciutto)

I'm glad you put in the sausage! I'll have to try this. The pita crust makes it almost instant -- compared to waiting for dough to rise.

Yum! I'm going to have this for supper tonight! May use some homemade chorizo (Mexican-style, not the cured Spanish chorizo) instead of the Italian sausage and swap out the asparagus with strips of poblanos and dry Jack for the Parm. Then next week make it with with Parm/Asparagus/Italian.

Real parm is definitely something that is not to be missed. What a gorgeous dish.

There is nothing that equals the flavor of reggiano parmesan. It is outstanding.

Yum - there is nothing like real Parm! I love this mini za, perfect for Spring!

Gregor, Grana Padano is a fine cheese; I often buy it for cooking. Sadly, it's often sold as Parmigiano-Reggiano (and priced accordingly).

Karina, this really was one classy pizza!

Paula, try this without the egg. It will be quite delicious.

Pam, a few days ago I found a dozen locally produced blue eggs at my supermarket. I've been putting them on, and in, everything!

Paz, thanks. I think it's sexy, too.

Mae, many thanks for the good catch. I've corrected the recipe. I certainly didn't mean to leave out the sausage; it really makes this dish.

Chiot's Run, invest is the perfect term -- you're investing in the wonderful meals you make with great ingredients. I love Romano, too (a sheep's milk cheese), especially with pasta.

Kalyn, the pita was the perfect base for the rich topping here, and I am in love with the Joseph's oat bran pitas.

Julia, I think it's like using expensive wine for cooking. Sometimes you want to, sometimes you don't. Same with cheese. (and maybe prosciutto, too, though I don't eat it.)

Catherine, all of those variations sound divine. Let us know which one you made!

Joanne, thanks -- it tasted as good as it looks.

Ed, I could not agree more. It's one ingredient I don't compromise on.

Natashya, anything with asparagus makes me feel like spring is here!

Mouth-watering concoction! I love chorizo but I have been missing merguez sausages, and I would have to make them myself to eat one !

I agree with previous comments, it looks yum and I would like to try it with chorizo (my current addiction).

Ever since your first posting on Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese I have been a convert! Although I wasn't of the green cardboard container of "shake cheese" as I like to refer to it. I hadn't splurged for the good stuff! now I do and what a difference!

Tasteofbeirut, I think merguez would be delicious here.

Deb, same with chorizo -- yummy.

Carol, once you get used to eating the real parm, you can't go back. It's such a remarkable ingredient and it makes magic with this pizza.

What a gorgeous asparagus recipe to celebrate spring’s arrival.

This looks absolutely scrumptious! If there is one cheese that is a mainstay in my refrigerator pantry - it's Parmigiano Reggiano

Great, informative post, Lydia. The pizza rocks! Thank you for the link!

This looks amazing, Lydia! Wow!

la pizza è buonissima, se poi si aggiunge un buon formaggio diventa ottima.
Ciao Andrea

very delicious recipe :D

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