I grew up in New Jersey and have felt a deep sense of sadness at the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. I am grateful my relatives are safe and warm again with minimal loss. Not everyone I know there escaped grief and heartache. It will take time for life to settle back down again and, for some, life will never be the same. As a teenager I spent a lot of time down the shore at Seaside Heights, one of the barrier island towns devastated by Sandy. One of the best things to eat there was pizza. The slices were huge, dripping with cheese and just the right amount of olive oil and dried oregano. After all these years, I still get cravings for it and I could never duplicate it. It must be the ovens they baked it in. During the summer I rarely make pizza because it is too hot, but during the autumn and winter months our standard Friday night dinner is homemade pizza. I posted my favorite topping (fresh clam) back in January but my favorite vegetarian and dairy free pizza is this potato and onion-topped pizza. When I make a pizza covered in caramelized onions, with bright herb flavors, I do not miss the cheese. This week my CSA bag from La Nay Ferme included some freshly dug red fingerling potatoes, fresh parsley, and oregano, all of which I used for the pizza. The fresh ingredients made for a superior topping. You might also freeze this, then defrost, warm it up, and serve in small squares as a pizzette holiday appetizer.
Potato and Onion Pizza
1 Tbsp. instant yeast (I use Saf Instant)
a generous pinch of sugar
1-1/3 c. warm water
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 c. 00 flour
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Potato and Onion Topping
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 c. thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large)
1 dozen red fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and sliced (5 cups)
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped Italian parsley
1-/2 Tbsp. fresh chopped oregano
1-1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
For the Pizza Dough: Mix together yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Add water and stir with a whisk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. While the yeast is developing, place 3 cups of flour and the salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to distribute salt. When yeast is ready make a well in the center of the flour and add olive oil and yeast. Mix with a spoon to form a sticky mass and begin kneading. Turn onto a floured surface and add 1/4 cup of flour. Bring dough together, even if it is still sticky, then let rest 5 minutes, untouched, so the gluten can develop. Add 1/4 c. more flour to the dough and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. (You may need 1/4 c. more flour to keep dough from sticking.) Place 2 tsp. olive oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Add dough and turn dough to coat slightly with oil. Wrap bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place 1-1/2 hours until it has doubled. The dough is enough to make one (1-inch thick) jelly roll-size pizza or 3 (10-inch) round thin pizzas.
While the dough is rising make the potato and onion topping. Heat 1/4 c. olive oil in a frying pan. When oil is hot add onions and sauté covered for 15 minutes, stirring often until onions are melting and golden. Place 1 cup sliced potatoes in the bottom of an oiled pie plate. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and a light sprinkle of onion and garlic powder. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir. It will take about 1/4 c. total layering the potatoes. Add 1 more cup of potatoes, seasoning with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and a bit more olive oil. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes. Remove plastic and stir potatoes. Cover and return to the microwave for 5-6 minutes until fork tender but not falling apart. Some slices may seem a bit firm but that is okay because they will continue to cook with the onions. Add potatoes to the onions in the frying pan. Add fresh herbs and 1 tsp. dried oregano. Stir and adjust salt and pepper to your taste. Sauté for 7-10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a jelly roll pan to keep dough from sticking. Spread dough onto the jelly roll pan. Dimple the dough slightly. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until dough is light golden on the bottom and is cooked through. Remove pan from oven. Spread potato and onion mixture on top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp. dried oregano or more to taste and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Change oven setting to low broil. Broil topping for 3 minutes then rotate pan and cook 1-2 minutes more until potatoes are golden. Be careful that it does not burn. Serves 4-6.