Tag Archives: grape tomatoes

Pugliese Potato-Crust “Pizza” with Tomatoes & Mozzarella

The Pugliesi are known for transforming simple vegetables into memorable dishes, and the pizza below is no exception. A supple crust is made with boiled potatoes and flour (much like gnocchi dough, but firmer) and baked in a well-oiled pan until the edges crisp and brown. Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and fresh thyme are a classic topping, but you can add Parmigiano, olives, even salame or artichoke hearts, whatever strikes your fancy or beckons at the market.

The dough, unlike classic pizza dough, doesn’t contain yeast, so it won’t rise in the oven. While the pizza can be baked immediately after shaping and topping, you can also opt to  shape it and top it up to 12 hours ahead, making it  a perfect dish for entertaining.

Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as an appetizer

  • ½ pound Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the baking pan
  • 20 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces fresh Mozzarella, cut into 1/4 -inch cubes, drained in a colander 30 minutes and blotted dry

Place the potatoes in a 1-quart pot. Add cool water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Cook until tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes over medium heat, then drain, pass through a ricer, and cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven with a baking stone in it to 425°F (preferbaly set on convection bake).

Mix the potatoes, flour, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt on a counter until a smooth dough forms, adding a little water if needed to help the dough come together; if the dough is sticky, add a little flour. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Flatten into a disk and roll out into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured counter.

Generously grease a non-perforated (and preferably nonstick) 12-inch pizza pan with olive oil and line it with the dough. Drizzle the top of the dough with the olive oil; top with the tomatoes, cut side down. Season with the thyme, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper.

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Place the pizza pan on the baking stone in the preheated oven and bake 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove from the oven, top with the Mozzarella, and return to the oven for 2 more minutes, or until  the Mozzarella melts. Serve hot.

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Farro with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, Onions, & Many Herbs

If I had to pick just one whole grain to cook with (and thank goodness I don’t have to!!), I would likely pick farro. It is so versatile: robust in salads, soothing in soups, toothsome in risotto-style dishes. It has a decidedly firm bite when cooked al dente, and can be toasted lightly in olive oil or butter before adding liquid, to intensify its nutty flavor.

Feel free to experiment with other seasonal vegetables instead of the more summery eggplants and tomatoes below; my farmer’s market still had beautiful end-of-summer produce a week ago, but butternut or acorn squash would be lovely instead, as would shiitake mushrooms, beets, or even cauliflower. Just roast the vegetables of your choice until tender while you boil the farro, then combine and enjoy.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

For the vegetables:

  • 2 Japanese eggplants, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the farro:

  • ¾ cup farro
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ cup mixed fresh herbs (basil, oregano, Italian parsley, chives, oregano, cilantro, mint, and tarragon)

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Make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 375° (preferably set on convection bake).

Line an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Roast the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just tender (the eggplants will take the longest to cook through; undercooked eggplants are spongy and bitter, so be sure to cook them all the way through). Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the farro: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and cook until chewy but tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking, then drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Finely mince the garlic with the mixed herbs until very fine. Stir into the farro along with the roasted vegetables, taste for salt and pepper, and adjust as needed. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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