Like the allure of meat on meat (think bacon burger), one carbohydrate can only improve with the addition of another. Strangely enough, it was during a starch-starved year in San Francisco, where no excess of sushi or burritos could curb my hankering for a decent slice of pie and a boiled bagel, that I discovered the ultimate carb combo: potato pizza. The tough-crusted wedge may not have scratched my East Coast itch, but it securely rooted the idea of tubers on toast.
Potato Pizza with Asiago-Almond Pesto
The trick to topping pizza with potatoes is to simultaneously achieve the desired doneness of two starches (dough and spud) that have decidedly different cooking times and techniques. I wasn’t entirely certain that it could be done (well, that is) until I tested R. Allen Smith’s recipe for breakfast pizza (Everyday with Rachael Ray, April 2010). His method of par-boiling, then pan-frying sliced potatoes makes for golden rounds that are toothsome and creamy, not heavy or greasy. Bravo!
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup roasted, salted almonds
1 clove garlic
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
1 pound prepared pizza dough
1 pound small red potatoes, sliced ¼-inch thick
- Preheat the oven to 425°. To make the pesto: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine the basil, almonds and garlic. With the machine running, slowly add ½ cup of the oil. Stir in ¼ cup of the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet, or roll out on a floured pizza peel. Spread pesto evenly over dough and bake in pan or on a pizza stone until the crust is almost fully cooked, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the potato slices with enough salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Immediately drain and lay slices out evenly on a paper towel to dry. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and, working in batches, brown the potato slices on both sides; transfer to paper towel to drain.
- Cover pizza evenly with potato rounds, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
Purchasing prepared pizza dough: Passable stand-ins for homemade dough are out there. Whole Foods makes fresh pizza dough in-house, which they sell by the pound in the prepared foods or the freezer aisle. If you live in the neighborhood of a Bertucci’s (New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, New Hampshire) the brick-oven pizzeria sells its signature dough to the public. Or, just pop into your local pizza shop and ask if you can trade a wad of your dough for a ball of theirs!
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