Monday, October 31, 2011


Sweet potato. Ricotta. Arugula. Pizza. That’s all you need to know, OK?

What? No? More? Fine. I spotted this recipe (presented as an appetizer “flatbread,” but you say flatbread, I say pizza) at The Kitchn during The Great Ovenless Exile. I knew my stovetop pizza-making method (which I still need to detail for you sometime, considering that it has become my default pizza-making method, even though I still write all my recipes as though I’m baking them in the traditional manner) wouldn’t be enough to cook the sweet potatoes properly, so carefully squirreled it away, glancing at it longingly now and then, until My!New!Oven! finally arrived. It seemed like such a slam dunk: I love ricotta on pizzas, the contrasting colors were so bright and autumnal, and the peppery crunch of the arugula seemed like a perfect foil for the sweet starchiness of the potato.

And it was, indeed, very good. Not transcendent—it tasted exactly like the sum of its parts, although the thyme was a surprisingly nice, elevating touch—but I enjoyed it. One of the original recipe commenters had noted that she had difficulty getting the sweet potato slices to cook through by the time the crust was done, and I don’t have a mandoline or the requisite knife skills to slice a sweet potato that thinly, and besides, I still wanted to use my stovetop method, so I decided to precook the sweet potatoes in the oven, taking a page from this pesto-butternut squash pizza recipe. It worked fairly well, but I think I could have roasted them a bit less long, because they dried out more than I expected. Other than that, everything went smoothly and as written. As always with recipes where raw arugula is added at the end, it was a bit awkward to eat, with leaves falling every which way as soon as you take a bite, but if you add the arugula to the pizza immediately when it comes out of the oven, it does wilt a little bit, which helps. (I always just load up my pizzas with as much arugula as they can hold, which makes overflow a given.)

A was unenthused about this pizza, claiming that he doesn’t like sweet potatoes, which was news to me because he happily devours sweet potato fries and sweet potato spinach salad, but I suppose ketchup and bacon (respectively, not together) go a long way toward making anything palatable. His disapproval means this isn’t destined to become a favorite standby, but I’ll definitely make it again on occasion. It’s a fallish but light meal, which is perfect for this I’m-craving-squash-but-it’s-90-degrees-outside funk I inevitably fall into every October since I moved to Southern California.

1 sweet potato (about 12 ounces)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 pound pizza dough
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, loosely packed
2 ounces arugula (two big handfuls)
Salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel the sweet potato and slice it into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Combine the slices with the olive oil in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Spread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet (coat with foil or parchment for extra ease) and bake for about 20 minutes or until tender.

3. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and increase the heat to 450 degrees.

4. In a small bowl, mix the thyme into the ricotta.

5. Roll out the pizza dough and place it on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or a little olive oil. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the top of the dough. Arrange the sweet potato coins in slightly overlapping layers on top. Sprinkle the entire surface with a little salt.

6. Bake pizza for 7 minutes, rotate it, and then bake for another 7 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are turning golden. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and bake for one more minute or until melted.

7. Scatter the arugula on top of the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let it stand for a few minutes to allow the arugula to wilt. Slice and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Good. I only added the arugula to the slices I was eating immediately, preferring to add fresh arugula to the leftovers after reheating them, but I think it would be OK reheated with the arugula already on top, too.

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