Sweet Potato

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I think one of the things I eat most in my life is sweet potato, which is a pretty healthy/nutritious obsession to have! Often when I’m trying to eat healthier as well I stretch the sweet potato as far as it will go in both a savory and sweet direction to satisfy cravings for potato-y treats.

One of my favorite dishes in the world is my mom’s mashed sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving. I’m telling you, if you have never made sweet mashed potatoes and you think it sounds weird, you have no idea what you’re missing! They are mashed with milk, butter, cinnamon and other holiday spices, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt and usually roasted pecans. After all that goodness they are covered in brûléed marshmallows and baked in a casserole dish. They are certainly not healthy by any means, but I think this really sparked my love for sweet potatoes.

Over the past few years I have experimented a lot with healthy versions of traditional “comfort” food- burgers, fries, pizza, pasta, and sweet potatoes actually lend themselves very well towards bread. They have a high starch content like white potatoes but carry a delicious undertone of sweetness that goes well with savory foods. I have tweaked and tailored my recipe for sweet potato pizza crust so much over the years that it has become an art- it is my obsession to get the most delicious, healthy pizza dough that is just as crave able as the glutinous yeast dough we are used to.

So for this recipe, I celebrated many different preparations of sweet potato centered around the theme of my ultimate healthy and delicious sweet potato pizza. I have grown so fond of this recipe that I honestly prefer it to most real pizzas now- the sweetness has a complicated burnt flavor that pairs so well with the sweetness of tomato sauces and salty, cheesy toppings. As for the toppings, you can use any of your favorite pizza toppings without any guilt because your crust is super nutritious.

Now, because I’m obsessed with all things sweet potato and this recipe is all about the beautiful orange starch, I created the ultimate sweet potato pizza toppings that push the deliciousness out of the park. Instead of a traditional pizza sauce, I roasted some sweet potatoes at a really high temperature and incorporated that smoky/sweet flavor into a tomato/garlic/basil sauce to cover the crust. Then I dolloped on some fresh ricotta and a generous amount of parmesan reggiano for a mouth watering salty flavor. To top it off I added buttery pine nuts, crisp applewood smoked bacon, sweet currants and thin and crispy lemon confit sweet potatoes. At the end I sprinkled on some of my favorite lemon olive oil and sliced it up!

You have to try this pizza crust, and I would highly recommend the toppings as well. It’s essentially a really easy and delicious way to get your daily dose of vegetables, carbs, proteins, all in a sinful tasting package with a satisfying crunch. When you’re ready, just make sure you have plenty of sweet potatoes on hand!

To make the sweet potato crust:

2 whole sweet potatoes
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp ground mustard
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups gluten free flour (I made oat flour by pulsing whole oats in a dry food processor)

So the first thing you’re going to want to do is cook all of your sweet potatoes in preparation for both the pizza crust and the sweet potato/tomato sauce.

If you have an outdoor grill, great! I suggest using it rather than an indoor oven simply because the temperature typically goes much higher, closer to the temperature of a pizza oven. Our goal is to roast the potatoes at a really high temperature until totally charred on the outside to maximize the amount of smoky charred flavor.

I have tested many different ways to prep the sweet potatoes for the crust specifically. Uncooked sweet potatoes are too coarse and make the texture too chewy in my opinion, and boiling potatoes always minimizes the natural flavor as opposed to roasting. This method is also super convenient because after the sweet potatoes are cooked, we can leave the grill preheated to use for our pizza!

With the grill preheated as high as it will go (mine was around 700-750 degrees F), lightly oil all sides of 3 sweet potatoes and place them directly on grill with the lid closed.

Check every 5-10 minutes to turn to ensure even browning and that the potatoes cook all the way through. Depending on their size, it should take approximately 35-45 minutes in total. The skins will be papery and charred and very easy to peel off.

When they’ve cooled down inside, remove the skins and reserve 1 of the potatoes for the sauce. With your two remaining sweet potatoes, place the meat into a large bowl and mash quickly.

At this point you want to combine the mashed roasted sweets with your yogurt until it combines into pale orange thick sauce that’s the consistency of of thin mashed potato or puree.

Next add your seasonings, olive oil, and garlic. These enhance the savoriness and roasted flavor of the potato and makes a flavorsome crust!

Lastly, to turn the mixture into your pizza, gradually add your gluten free flour of choice until it forms a moldable dough.

I used oat flour because it’s super nutritious and carries through the nutty, sweet flavor profile. It doesn’t have as harsh of a gluten free seedy/odd flavor that most flours do. However, if you prefer a trusted brand of GF flour, go ahead and use that, but I recommend adding a pinch of baking powder or xanthan gum to achieve a more doughy texture.

When your dough is ready, liberally grease a pizza pan with oil and roll out the dough, pressing and smushing with your hands to achieve a large, thin circular crust.

To ensure the crust is really crispy and the bottom doesn’t go soggy (a common problem with GF pizza crusts) we’re going to pre-cook the crust in the hot grill! Cook for about 10 minutes until the edges start to blacken and the crust loosens from the pan. If you have uneven browning and you are worried about the edges burning, you can make a crown of tin foil around the circumference to stop it from browning and then take it off at the end of the final pizza cook (the sugar content in the sweet potatoes tends to burn easily).

If you are working indoors, a good tip is to put the pizza oven SAFELY over two burners and cook just the bottom like you would a quesadilla or a omelette.

When it’s all precooked, let it cool down and get to work on the delicious toppings!

To make the confit lemon sweet potatoes:

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes (sliced in 1/8″ thick circles)
5 slices bacon and reserved bacon fat (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh chopped garlic
3/4 cups olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

First we’re going to do some prep work and par-cook our bacon. Slice about 5-6 pieces of applewood smoked bacon and roast in the hot oven on parchment paper for 5-8 minutes until about 2/3 cooked. You don’t want them to be fully cooked and crispy and brown just yet, as we’ll finish cooking them on top of the pizza.

Reserve the bacon for later and transfer fat drippings from the pan to a medium/large saucepan. Yes, this seems super gluttonous, but ultimately all this fat is only flavoring one element of the pizza, and like I said, you are welcome to customize with any toppings you like.

Get the bacon fat cooking over medium heat, and add lemon, garlic, and olive oil. Just be careful because the fat will already be hot and may react with the added liquids, but it will calm down.

Slice up 2 good sized Japanese sweet potatoes into 1/8″ thick circles. Japanese sweet potatoes are super healthy and little crazy shaped intense sweet potatoes. They have mostly the same flavor, but the are super interesting looking, twisty, and have a purple skin and yellow flesh.

Add your potatoes and turn the heat down to medium/low and cover. We’re going to now cook the potatoes while we prepare the rest of our toppings so they will be good to go when we’re ready. Cooking them low and slow in fat and acid infuses a really rich and sharp flavor that pairs so well with the potato’s sweetness.

In total they should cook, covered, on low, for 20-30 minutes until slightly fork tender but partially firm, because, again, they will finish cooking on the pizza. They are delicious nuggets of flavor and add a beautiful shape and taste to the pizza.

To make the sweet potato tomato sauce:

1 roasted sweet potato flesh
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs chopped garlic
1 tsp fresh chopped basil
1 tsp fresh chopped oregano
1/2 tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 large Roma tomatoes
1/8 cup milk (2 tbsp)

Now’s the time to get back to that extra roasted potato we’ve been saving.

First, get a medium saucepan heating over medium heat and add your olive oil, garlic, and spices. When the mixture is slightly browned and bubbling, add your tomatoes.

Cover with a tight fitting lid and let cook for 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and mashable. Immediately add your reserved sweet potato and mix to incorporate. Don’t worry about chunks or imperfections, because we’re going to blitz the sauce in a blender to make a nice, smooth sauce.

Before we get too eager and burn ourselves, however, take the sauce off the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. When you are ready, place the sauce in a blender/food processor and blitz on full power until it smoothes out. The last step is to add a small splash of milk to mellow out the intense flavors and to create a nice slightly creamy texture.

When that’s finished, pass the sauce through a fine sieve to remove any remaining lumps and you’re ready to assemble the pizza!

To finish the toppings:

5 slices par cooked bacon
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup parmesan regianno
1/2 fresh ricotta
Drizzle of olive oil

So you have your sweet potato crust base pre-cooked, you are ready to take the lid off the confit potatoes, and you have your bacon cooked and sauce made.

In addition to these components, we’re going to add pine nuts for fresh nuttiness, currents for sweetness and two kinds of cheese. Make sure you have about 1/3 cup of the salty parmesan regianno and about 1/2 cup ricotta to dollop on top.

Our order of operations will be to obviously put a generous coating of the sauce on top of the crust, then the park, confit potatoes, bacon, pine nuts, currents, and finish it off with small even dollops of ricotta. I also think I sprinkled over basil at the end and some olive oil.

When your pizza looks ready to go, it’s time to get back to that scorching hot grill outside to really crisp up the crust and finish cooking the toppings.

Once the grill is a high as it’ll go, carefully place your pizza pan directly onto the grill and close the lid. If you’re worried about your pan getting ruined, I’d cover the bottom with tin foil to protect the surface while insulating heat to ensure the crust cooks.

Cook this delicious pie for 10-20 minutes and check frequently to make sure it’s nice and crispy, golden and bubbly- depending on your oven temperature it could take less or more time so just trust your instinct.

And once you’re done, you have this amazing, healthy(ish), delicious sweet potato pizza. It is truly perfect for sweet potato obsessed pizza lovers, adventurous eaters, and totally customizable.

In retrospect, I’m thinking the sweetness could lend itself really well to a dessert pizza (maybe with apples, nuts, and mascarpone)! Look out for one of those in the future- my pizza obsession is going nowhere any time soon.

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