One of the reasons I focus on eating as well as I possibly can within my limited means is as simple as this: it makes me feel good. Not just physically - all food, even if it’s not super nutritious or incredibly delicious, is eventually appreciated. Eating well makes me feel good mentally & emotionally.
See, there’s a lot I could complain about right now; heck, there’s a lot most folks could complain about these days. These are pretty difficult times for many people around the world, what with the natural disasters, economic unrest and other daily plights. With so many stressors affecting us, sometimes it can be hard to find that bright spot, that silver lining that makes all those little rain clouds a biy more bearable. Sometimes, you have to force yourself to open your eyes and really see those bright spots; sometimes, you just have to make up your own.
I made the choice many years ago to make good food my bright spot, my little piece of joy. I have to eat anyway, so why not make the best of it, right? That’s exactly what I’ve done here on ye olde blog, and that’s exactly what I did with this recipe. And darned if I can find something that’s made me happier today than taking a bite of this pizza.
Though it’s not new, the combination sweet potatoes, spinach, and caramelized onions seems to fall under the slightly unconventional topping category. As the victim of my current flavor obsession, this ingredient combo has been seen on my plate quite frequently. It’s gone in burritos, warm salads, sandwiches (though that was particularly starchy, so I wouldn’t recommend it). If it’s true that you are what you eat, then I’m a baked sweet potato with caramelized onions & chopped spinach.
When I was last at the Co-op, I made an impulse buy and picked up some of their organic pizza dough. At just $1.99, I figured it was an affordable splurge that I could enjoy for a couple of meals. Once I got home, it occurred to me that pizza was the one way I had not yet enjoyed my holy triumvirate of ingredients, so into the kitchen I went to get my pizza on.
To keep things interesting (and moist), I made a creamy herb sauce to tie everything together. Though pizza crust is thinner than bread, it’s still another starch added to a starch, so a sauce is definitely welcome in this case. If you have some on hand, or if you make your own (like I plan to do someday), some fresh ricotta would be nice in its place, but this creamy, garlicky, herb sauce is definitely worth a try. For the cheese, I just used some grated Monterey Jack because that’s all I had on hand, but mozzarella or even some havarti would be nice on this pizza.
The cool part is when you finally pull it out of the oven and survey your masterpiece. You already know it’s going to be delicious because the enticing aroma has already permeated the air (and because caramelized onions automatically make everything delicious). But seeing how pretty the darned thing is just makes you smile. And then you’re patting yourself on the back for making such a lovely dinner that will not only taste good and be slightly less evil than restaurant pizza, it will make you feel less guilty about a treat like pizza because it cost so much less.
Roasted Sweet Potato Pizza with Spinach & Caramelized Onions (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1.25)
6-8 oz. your favorite pizza dough (I hear this one’s pretty awesome)
2-3 T Creamy Herb Sauce (recipe below)
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1/2 c baby spinach leaves, chopped
1 c thinly sliced red onions
2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c grated mozzarella cheeseCreamy Herb Sauce
1/2 c cream cheese, softened
2 T nonfat milk
2 T finely chopped scallions or chives
1/2 t herbes de provence
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a cookie sheet with foil and set aside. Prepare the creamy herb sauce by combining all ingredients in a bowl and whisking together until smooth. Cover & set aside. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator and place in a covered bowl while you work.
2. Place the sweet potato slices in a bowl and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss, then place in a single layer on the prepared cookie sheet. Roast for no more than 10 minutes; remove from oven and set aside.
3. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, begin to caramelize the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Place onions in skillet, sprinkle with salt and saute slowly over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until the onions have turned a rich, caramel brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Dust your hands and work surface lightly with flour. Working from the center of your ball of pizza dough, gently stretch & shape it to the desired size (since I don’t have a pizza stone or pan, I just go rustic & let it make it’s only oblong shape; if you prefer round or square pizza, feel free to make those instead).
4. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the creamy herb sauce on top, then spread over the surface, leaving about 3/4″ distance from the edge of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese, then add the sweet potato slices and a couple tablespoons of caramelized onions. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped spinach and more onions (more cheese, too, if you like).
5. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut into 6-8 pieces (depending on size of pizza). Serve with a nice salad and a small side of creamy herb sauce, and enjoy!