Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pizza with Sweet Potato, Kale & Goat Cheese...and Happy Thanksgiving

Recently I had a bit of a dinner mishap involving a pizza.  On the way to the table with my freshly made pizza, I somehow managed to tilt the peel in such a way that most of the slices of my pizza slid off and onto the floor.  All landed cheese-side down (of course).  The three slices that remained on the peel made a meager dinner for two. There were other things in the house to eat, but I really wanted to eat the pizza.  It was the first time I had made this particular pizza and it was delicious.  After we finished our pizza snack I eyed the ruined slices in the sink, hoping that some might be salvageable after all.  I have to admit that it was with much regret that I turned on the disposal.    

I wish I were able to cite the original inspiration for this pizza, but I can't.  I was flipping through old issues of Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Gourmet on a mission to find something particular (I don't recall now what it was I was looking for).  I remember seeing the words "sweet potato pizza" in an index and being intrigued enough to turn to the recipe.  I had assumed that the sweet potatoes would be sliced or cubed, and then roasted or sautéed and scattered over the pizza.  Instead of that, the pizza was "sauced" with a smear of sweet potato purée.  I posted a winter squash pizza made the same way a few years ago.  Since I like that pizza a lot, I mentally tucked away the image of this one and returned to whatever it was I was doing before it caught my attention.

It was this image that inspired me the night of our ill-fated pizza.  I had some beautiful Beauregard sweet potatoes from my last visit to the farmers' market in addition to some local Red Russian kale and red onions.  Along with some goat cheese I knew I had the makings of a pretty stellar pizza.  And it was.  I should console myself with the thought that I didn't drop all of the slices.

Since I didn't get any pictures of the finished pizza that night, I knew I would have to make it again if I wanted to post the recipe.  I decided to make it again sooner rather than later because Thanksgiving is upon us, and at some point it occurred to me that this pizza would be a great way to use up leftover sweet potato purée from your Thanksgiving dinner (assuming that your Thanksgiving sweet potatoes don't include marshmallows). Or, it would make a great dinner for the night before Thanksgiving—just cook an extra sweet potato while you are preparing your sweet potatoes for the next day's feast.   If you don't have any kale, any number of things you might have on hand would be delicious in combination with the sweet assortment of cheeses...something salty like bacon, prosciutto or sausage....some caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms...

I do hope that you will give this idea of a sweet potato-"sauced" pizza a try, but mostly today I would like to take a moment at the beginning of this week of Thanksgiving to wish all of my visitors a very happy Thanksgiving.  I hope that none of your food winds up on the floor (unless it is a purposeful gift for a beloved furry companion).  And may you find yourself at a peaceful table....laden with delicious the company of those you love—and who love you—best.

Pizza with Sweet Potato, Kale & Goat Cheese

1 medium sweet potato—about 12 oz.  (Beauregard, Jewel & Garnet are all good choices)
Salt, Pepper & Nutmeg
2 T. Olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 small red onion (about 6 oz.), cut into a 1/4-inch dice
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 fat clove of garlic, finely minced
1 bunch Red Russian kale (Green Kale or Tuscan Kale will also work), stems stripped away and discarded
Pizza dough (see below)
3 1/2 to 4 oz. goat cheese, coarsely crumbled
3/4 to 1 oz. (1/4 to 1/3 cup) finely grated Pecorino

Prick the sweet potato in several places.  Place on a small baking sheet and transfer to a 400° oven.  Bake until tender and oozing sugary syrup—about 40 minutes to an hour.  When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard.  Mash the flesh with a fork and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  You should have about 3/4 cup of sweet potato purée (see note).  Set aside.  (Sweet potatoes may be prepared ahead...or leftovers may be used.) 

While the sweet potatoes roast, cook the onions and kale:  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the kale and cook until tender—about 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool. When cool, squeeze firmly to remove as much water as possible.  Chop coarsely and set aside.

Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a sauté pan set over medium heat.  Add the onion, along with a pinch a salt and the pepper flakes and sweat until the onion is very tender and beginning to caramelize—15 minutes or so—regulating the heat as necessary to keep the onion from burning.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant—a minute or two.  Add the kale, toss with the onion-garlic mixture and cook until the kale has given up any remaining excess water and has begun to sizzle in the olive oil (add a bit more if the pan seems dry). Set aside.

Build the pizza: Roll the rested dough out into a 11- to 12-inch round (the dough will continue to stretch another inch or so in diameter when you spread the sweet potatoes) and transfer to a baking sheet, pizza pan or pizza peel that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal.  Brush the dough with a little olive oil.  Spread the sweet potato purée over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border.  

Spread the kale mixture over the sweet potato and crumble the goat cheese evenly over the kale.  

Scatter the Pecorino evenly over all. 

Bake the pizza: If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, place the pizza in the pan on a pre-heated pizza stone in a pre-heated 450° to 500° oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is tinged with golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. To insure a crisp crust, slide the pizza off of the pan and onto the pizza stone as soon as the crust is set (after 4 or 5 minutes). 

If using a peel, slide the pizza directly onto the preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is tinged a golden brown color—about 8 to 12 minutes.

When the pizza is done, transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve.

Note (added November 2015):  I have noticed this year that the sweet potatoes have tended to be a bit drier than usual.  If you find yourself with an unmanageably stiff and dry sweet potato purée, drizzle in a bit of olive oil...or let it out to a more spreadable consistency.  

Pizza Dough:
1/2 cup warm water (100º-110º)
1 1/8 t. active dry yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt

Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast. Let soften for a minute or two. Add 3/4 cup of the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the oil, salt and another half cup of the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough that holds its shape, adding more flour if necessary. Sprinkle some of the remaining quarter cup of flour on a smooth surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and sprinkle with a bit more of the flour. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed lightly with a finger—about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size—about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Cover with a towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped and cooked or frozen.

Food Processor Method: Place the water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until the yeast has dissolved. Place 1 1/3 cups of the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse to blend. Add the oil and yeast/water mixture and pulse until the dough is homogenous. Begin to run the mixture in long pulses until the dough is smooth and elastic—it shouldn't take more than a minute. If the dough seems wet and sticky, add some of the remaining flour a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and give it a few kneads by hand.

Variation for a Whole Wheat Crust: Instead of unbleached all-purpose flour, use 3/4 c. bread flour and 1/2 to 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (the new “white” whole wheat flour is a good choice).


Unknown said...

Delicious pizza. Sweet potato works great instead of tomato sauce. We will definitely make this again.

Paige said...

Thanks for letting me know you tried it and liked it!

bristol plasterers said...

this sounds good. Something new to try as well. thanks for sharing this recipe.


Paige said...

Thanks Simon! Enjoy!