When Other Produce Fades, Make Potato Pizza



In this week's share: carrots, Yukon Gold potatoes, apples, strawberries, lettuce, red chard, braising greens. To try Anastatia's adaptation of Jim Lahey's potato pizza, click here, or click here for her recipe for foolproof pizza dough.

This week, I left my friend Maggie's and my joint CSA share in Maggie's hands and headed out of Boston for a long-planned weekend trip. Since we are both thoroughly modern young women, she updated me on the status of our vegetables via text message:

"The loot: chard, lettuce, a ton of carrots, a ton of potatoes, 2! pints of strawberries, and braising mix! What shall I reserve for you?"

Ecstatic, I texted back:

"Ooh can you save me some strawberries? And maybe some potatoes or carrots?"

Sadly, modern technology has only achieved so much: cell phones allowed us to talk about the strawberries, but Maggie's refrigerator couldn't save them from decay. On Saturday I got another text with less exciting news:

"The strawberries are going off! I think I might have to eat them all before I lose them. What's the best way to eat a lot of strawberries?"

Resigned, I suggested she make a smoothie.

Luckily, the share also contained much less perishable carrots, potatoes, and apples. When I returned from my weekend jaunt, I stopped by Maggie's to pick them up.

I was glad to get the potatoes; I'd made a pizza patate the weekend before, and wanted to mess around with the recipe again. I'd found the recipe in an old issue of the late lamented Gourmet magazine, which had adapted it from Jim Lahey, of no-knead bread fame. With this double pedigree, I had thought the pizza would be delicious and foolproof.

While it required a certain time investment, the recipe was simple: make pizza dough, soak potato slices in brine while the dough rises, then top the dough with the potatoes, onions, and rosemary. I was intrigued by the lack of cheese and the brining of the potatoes, and imagined slices of chewy dough with a velvety potato topping and the richness of caramelized onions. But what I got was more like individual slices of potato atop pizza crust. Where was the unctuousness the Gourmet writer had led me to expect?

I was irked, but I had remained convinced that the idea was a good one and I just needed to tinker with the recipe for a bit. I thought simply lowering the cooking temperature would make all the difference, and now I had the potatoes to test my hypothesis.

When I got home, I mixed up the pizza dough and left it to rise, then peeled and sliced the potatoes and dropped them in brine. A few hours later, I topped the pizza and put it in the oven, a full fifty degrees lower than the recipe had instructed. While it cooked, I put together a green salad.

When the pizza emerged, it was just what I had wanted: the potato slices melted into the crust just as I had imagined. I ate two slices, feeling tremendously gratified at how well they'd turned out, and a little more confident in my own kitchen sense.

Recipe: Pizza Patate (Potato Pizza)
Recipe: Basic Pizza Dough