Something tells me I am not the only one who Santa has brought few extra pounds over the holidays. Although we are still weeks away from Lent, I guess its time to reverse the holiday weight gain with something light, but not too boring. I am taking a detox brake and this is exactly when a humble side dish like a good salad steps in and becomes our diet centerpiece.
Naturally, some crispy Romaine or Boston lettuce can be a good substitute for green mix. I tend to avoid the iceberg lettuce though for the lack of taste or nutritional value.
A while ago my grandma gave me this gorgeous set of wooden salad bowls (unvarnished and untreated) with a peculiar advice on how to use them properly. “The bowls should never be washed, just wipe them out well with a paper towel” (what?)…”eventually they will be seasoned and perfumed from many salads,” she went on handing me her collection of notes on multiple salad dressings. The more I insisted on secretly washing the bowls with soap, the more often I discovered some similar instructions in the old cookbooks regarding wooden salad bowls and omelet pans care. Until I gave up and decided to give those bowls some proper respect. The down side of course is that I am only using them on special occasions (following the rule: whatever can not go into the dishwasher, has to wait).
You can top the dressed salad with countless number of other things be it veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese or some lean protein – this dressing pairs really well with huge array of food. My latest favorite is walnut – blue cheese – pomegranate topping.
Like most vinaigrette, this one can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator or a cool place, but I prefer to make it fresh each time, because it tastes way better in the room temperature keeping the garlic bits pungent.
Everybody loves good pizza. Almost everybody loves potatoes. Combining these two favs into one dish can actually produce a blissful combination of yum. Years ago I tried my first potato pizza in Livorno, Italy, but was not much impressed. Perhaps it was not warm enough, or my palate was too young at the time… Today it’s a different story – I literally adore it! And now that (with years of practice) I’ve came up with my totally fool-proof recipe of pizza dough that always works, I make this pizza almost every second month. Along with many other varieties of pizzas of course (for that I double or triple the dough recipe below to stash a batch of pizza balls in a freezer and thaw them in a fridge overnight when ready to hit it).
Although I have dozens of cookbooks on Italian cooking, it was not until I got a “Great Tastes Italian“ that the recipe of potato pizza grabbed my attention due to a good quality image, a svelte look (if ever anything baked with cheese can be svelte) and a mountain of baby arugula on it (that bundle of health). It was called “Potato & Rocket Pizza“. Here we are: the visual impact pushed me to try this recipe and it was so delicious my family was literally fighting for the last piece.
I am including my perfect pizza dough recipe in this post – please take a note of it and you won’t regret it!
For potato pizza, you can always experiment with ingredients (try sweet potatoes or very thinly sliced brussels sprouts (pre-soaked in salted water for 2 hours) and lemon, for change), but please do not make this recipe with mashed or boiled potatoes (or you will regret it).
Certainly, you can always experiment with specialty cheeses of your choice, like feta, blue, brie, Gorgonzola, etc.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until pizza base is crisp if you are using baking sheet. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.
Voila! Remove from the oven, top with fresh arugula and serve. For and extra layer of taste: umami lovers can add some anchovies, while meat lovers can add some prosciutto. I used some dry Coppa for this recipe.
Combine 750 ml (3 cups) of flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add mix of yeast with water and olive oil. Mix well on low speed until ingredients begin to combine. Add gradually 250 ml (1 cup) of flour and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
7 oz cheese, cut into small cubes [mozzarella or cheddar]
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Grease the baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (Note: no need to do that in using pizza stone or pizza baking tray with holes). Work out the dough flattening and stretching it gently with your fingers/palms and flipping 3-5 times on the floured surface. Leave the outer edges a little thicker. Once the dough is stretched to a desired size, transfer it to the pizza tray or a baking sheet. Using the palms of your hands, lightly flatten dough out to the edges of the pan. Spread 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon oregano in a circular motion leaving a 1-inch border.
Distribute the potatoes in a single layer, overlapping slightly if you can. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with cheese cubes and onions.
Bake at 450F for 15 to 18 minutes or until pizza base is crisp and the cheese is bubbling. For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted.
Top with arugula and serve. Bon Appétit!