Potato Sage Pizza with Green Fries

Happy Saint Patty’s Day! I sincerely apologize for not having an appropriately-themed dish to share with you this year. I’m experimenting with no fewer than three recipes at the moment and this wonderful holiday caught me by surprise. I’m an embarrassment to food bloggers everywhere, I’m sure. Still, I do have a tried and true recipe for Irish Cream Pound Cake on file for you that I highly recommend. For Irish cream lovers, this cake is sin on a plate. If you aren’t as fond of liquor as I am, you can also whip up a batch of bright green Mint Chocolate Candy Cookies. Yum yum. Finally, considering how strongly potatoes are tied to Irish history, you might even consider today’s post to be acceptable. Right? Of course. It’s what I intended all along…mmhm…

Growing up, I seemed to have weird tastes even for a kid. Maybe even especially for a kid. See, instead of slathering ketchup or ranch dressing on anything and everything I really liked bland things. Boring things. My favorite snacks included white bread with butter and peas eaten out of the can (eww!). Don’t get me wrong, I definitely had a sweet tooth (and was a chubber until I discovered roller blading at 15), but I would always choose the cheese and crackers over pizza bites. Over the years I have of course grown to love more complex and unusual tastes…until it comes to pizza. For some reason, I am still a pizza minimalist. Give me a little EVOO, parm, and herbs and I’m good. No sauce required, no deep-dish, no stuffed-crust. There are some killer veggie-lover’s pies out there and I had a kickass gluten-free ground turkey pizza and my best bud’s house, but if I make a pizza for myself I won’t need much.

This recipe is a continuation of my love affair with sage. I also learned that I really like the potato-pizza combo in Japan where they like to put potato salad (among other things) on their pies. While the pizza recipe itself was simple enough, being the klutz that I am I happened to smash my hand into a metal door frame at work the day I made this and had a constantly oozing cut the rest of the day. Not wanting to risk kneading the dough, I cheated and bought a pre-made organic blob at my local Coop but included the original dough recipe here for you. Since simply topping the pizza was a little boring even for me, I included a batch of “green fries”. Pizza and fries for dinner, only tastier and healthier!

Potato Sage Pizza with Green Fries

(adapted from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian by Becker et. al., and Clean Start by Terry Walters)

Ingredients:

For the Pizza Dough*…

2   t   active dry yeast

1  1/3   C   warm water

3 ½ – 4   C   flour

2   T   EVOO

1   T   salt

* Note: According to source recipe, this makes two 12″ pizzas. Save half the dough for later.

For the Pizza Toppings…

¼   C   EVOO

6   oz.   red potatoes, boiled and sliced thinly

2   T   coarsely chopped fresh sage (or 2 t dried sage)

salt and pepper to taste

For Green Fries…

1   lb.   fresh green beans

1   C   canola or other neutral oil, or enough to fill a medium sauce pan ~2″ deep

1   t   salt

1   t   wasabi powder

Procedure:

  1. For the dough (which can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge overnight): sprinkle yeast over the top of warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes or until mostly dissolved. Then, add oil, salt, and flour and knead or mix with an electric mixer with dough attachment on low speed for about 1 minute until the ingredients are incorporated. Continue kneading or mix on medium for another 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  2. Cut dough in half and save one ball in the refrigerator for future use (will keep for 3 days). Place the other ball in a floured bowl covered in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height – about 1 hour depending on temperature (in my 65°F living room it takes about 3 hrs for my dough to rise). Once risen, punch dough down and reroll into a ball, letting it rest covered in a cloth for another 15 minutes or so to proof. Move a rack to the bottom of the oven and preheat to 475°F.
  3. After dough has proofed roll it out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 12″ flat disk. Place dough on a pizza stone or greased baking sheet. Use your fingertips to push dents in the surface of the dough to prevent bubbles (I forgot this step and got some monster bubbles!) and brush liberally with EVOO, ~ ¼ Cup.
  4. Top pizza with potato slices and sage. Dribble an additional 2 Tablespoons EVOO on top of the potatoes/sage and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake pizza on bottom rack until the crust is golden brown – about 12 minutes.
  5. While pizza is baking fill a heavy-bottomed saucepan 2″ deep with canola or neutral oil for frying. Heat oil to 350°F – be careful to keep it from smoking – and drop beans very carefully into the oil in handfuls, cooking for 30 seconds at a time or until beans are bright green and just soft. Remove from oil and place on paper towel-lined plate and repeat until all beans are cooked. Pat beans with paper towel to remove excess oil.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine salt and wasabi powder. Sprinkle seasoning over beans, toss evenly to coat, and serve alongside pizza or as an appetizer if pizza is still cooking. If left to sit, the “green fries” become mushy.


Beezer’s Notes:

I devoured this pizza. It is almost embarrassing to admit just how much of it I ate in a single sitting, especially since – even without sauce or meat – it is pretty filling with all the potatoes. I just loved the light taste and crispy sage spirals. I do wish the sage flavor had been a bit stronger so I’m thinking I may brush the dough with sage butter instead of EVOO the next time I make this. Not as healthy, granted, but even more delicious!

As for the “green fries”, they were better than I expected. I’ll admit, not dipping the fries in some breading before frying had me a little skeptical, but they turned out really flavorful and with a great kick thanks to the wasabi – the perfect compliment to a mild pizza. Unlike true fries though they were quite soft and, as tasty as they were, I really missed the crunch. I’m thinking I will pan fry them in the future to try to give them a bit more texture. Has anyone pan fried green beans before? Am I crazy? Haha, probably. 😛

Overall Preference: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Baked Fries with Basil and Garlic-Paprika Mayo

I am both very lucky and very spoiled for spending nineteen years of my life living in the great green state of Vermont.  VT is, beyond any doubt, a foodie state: farmer’s markets are everywhere, restaurants like The Skinny Pancake, A Single Pebble, and Bluebird Tavern frequently make headlines; eateries toting “all-green” menus like Magnolia Bistro are starting to appear, and  New England Culinary Institute keeps turning out more fantastic chefs who stay in the state! Oh, and I can’t forget the bakeries

…and all restaurants linked above are in the city of Burlington alone! Since BTown is where I grew up, I know its food-scene the best, but there are just as many – if not more – absolutely amazing places outside the city. My grandmother in particular always requests an out-of-town restaurant for her birthday. It was at one of these restaurants that I tried an appetizer that inspired this entry. It wasn’t anything fancy: a small basket of french fries with an assortment of mayo-dips, but oooh was it good! The fries were skinny and golden little sticks with just a pinch of salt and the dips ranged from spicy, to tangy, to sweet. I don’t remember exactly what the dips contained, but when I decided to make my own homemade fries (baked!) the other day, I wanted to recreate a few of the mayo-flavors I had experienced at that restaurant.

Baked Fries with Basil and Garlic-Paprika Mayo (inspired by Black Sheep Bistro)

Ingredients:

For the Fries…

2   large russet potatoes, washed (about ½ lb.)

¼   C   EVOO

2-3   T   salt (I used ground sea salt for added crunch)

For the Dips…

1   large handful basil leaves, washed (about 1 Cup)

1   clove of garlic, minced

½   t   paprika

2/3   C   mayo (I prefer canola-based mayonnaise)


Procedure:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  2. Slice the potatoes into generous wedges about 2″ long and ½” thick – they will shrink a bit in the oven. Lay them out evenly on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and use a pastry brush or spoon to coat the top side with EVOO. You don’t want them to be soaked, but well covered. Sprinkle half the salt over the wedges and then flip them so the oiled and salted sides are now down.
  3. I did not need to oil again here. The oil had dripped down onto my bakery sheet enough so that the fries were well coated when flipped. If you do need to add more oil now, though, feel free. Just remember: baking is supposed to be healthier than frying. 😉 Sprinkle the remaining salt over the fries and place in the oven. Bake until deep golden brown and slightly crispy (mine took about 15 minutes).
  4. While the fries are baking, prepare the dips: first make the Basil dip by putting 1/3 Cup mayo into a food processor. Chop up your basil leaves a bit if you’re like me and have a mini-machine, or simply dump the whole leaves on top of the mayo. Process on Low for a few bursts until the leaves are completely minced and fully incorporated into the mayo. Put basil dip aside in a small bowl and clean the processor.
  5. To make the garlic dip, put the minced garlic, paprika, and remaining mayo in the food processor and process until smooth. Transfer garlic dip to another small bowl.
  6. When fries are done, slide them onto a paper towel-lined plate until they are cool enough to handle. I did not have to blot mine, but if you used extra EVOO (or are just more health-conscious) you may wish to.
  7. Serve fries as hot as possible without burning, with dollops of both dips. Dips can be saved for up to a week in the fridge and are excellent on sandwiches and wraps.

Beezer’s Notes:

So while you will have to like mayonnaise to enjoy these dips, I am convinced anyone will love these fries no matter what. They’ve got that perfect crunchy-yet-soft texture with the right amount of browning that puts frozen fries to shame. And ya know what? They really aren’t at all difficult to make. The extra 5 minutes you take to slice these up will be more than made up for in the flavor you get from NOT opening a bag of freezer-burned, overly-processed junk…and they’re not fried so you can convince yourself that they’ll count as your vegetable for the day. 🙂

As for the dips, I – for one – really enjoyed them. They did turn out rather thick compared to the dips I loved at the fancy restaurant, but I had decided against diluting (with a bit of milk) since I wanted to use most of it for sandwiches anyway. If you’re going to serve these dips exclusively with fries or chips, you’ll probably want to thin them a bit. My dad wasn’t a fan of the basil flavor (his loss, in my opinion) and said the garlic one was “way too garlic-y” for his taste. Next time, I’d like to try sauteing the garlic first in order to brown it a bit and mellow the flavor. I think that’s what real chefs do to make garlic mayo anyway – am I right?

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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