Sunday, June 27, 2010
Garlic Scape Potato Pizza
Summer didn't really hit Portland until about 3 days ago. These last few weeks featured buckets of rain, and chilly winds that made you want cover any exposed flesh. In mid-June. But once the sun comes out, it wipes away any memory of the blustery past. Right now my clothes are drying outside on the line, the dog is snoozing in the sun, and a lone glass or two still needs to be gathered in from last night's backyard party. There's really not much to remind us of the last few cold and damp weeks. But if you look at the farmers markets, you can see the aftershocks. Harvests are a few weeks late. Oregon's beloved hood strawberries are a touch waterlogged this year, not quite their usual punchy flavor-filled selves. But the biggest loser seems to have been garlic.
Last month I thinned out tasty shoots of green garlic from the garden, and was eagerly awaiting the proper harvest. But within a few weeks, reddish-brown spots started showing up, the sign of garlic rust. According to gardening sites, rust is promoted by low light and high moisture levels, so I suppose we didn't stand a chance. Most of our neighbors are in the same boat. My gardening partner and I pulled out all of the garlic, to prevent the infection from setting into the soil. It's a bit disheartening. But I comforted myself with garlic scapes.
Scapes are the adorably curled tops of the garlic plant, which would turn into flowers if left to grow. But they can be harvested and cooked (even when you don't have to pull up the whole plant), and taste vaguely like garlic-dressed asparagus. You can grind them into a delicious pesto with the usual ingredients, but I think it's much nicer to feature them in recipes that highlight their curls. Like this pizza.
If you make this at home, you don't need to load up quite so many scapes on top of your pizza (I got a bit carried away). But they're so delicious, you might want to anyways. You can also cut them into somewhat more manageable lengths, but where's the fun in that? As with my asparagus pizza, I turned to a sauce-free pie to highlight the flavor of the scapes. I laid down a bed of boiled waxy red potatoes, left over from hash browns a few mornings earlier. You can also use mozarella, but it's surprisingly nice with just potatoes, which create a creamy and satisfying base. A sprinkling of fusty bleu cheese stands up to the equally-assertive scapes, and a scattering of walnuts rounds it out with a welcome crunch and nutty depth.
Garlic Scape Potato Pizza
1 ball of pizza dough, ~10 oz (I'm still a big cheerleader for the recipe in Artisan Breads Every Day by the great Peter Reinhart)
2 good-sized waxy red or yellow potatoes, boiled and sliced into 1/4" rounds
3 Tbsp walnuts, untoasted (they'll toast up enough in the oven)
3 Tbsp crumbled bleu cheese
~6-8 garlic scapes, tossed with a light spray of olive oil
Preheat your oven, with a pizza stone if you have, to 500 degrees for 1-2 hours. If your pizza dough has been refrigerated (as most good pizza doughs will be), let it come to room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
Place the pizza dough on a lightly-floured counter top, and press outward into a thick disk (leaving a 1" unpressed area along the edge as the crust). Pick up the disk and let it drape over the backs of your hands, letting gravity help you stretch it into a 12-14" circle. If the dough resists, let it relax for a few minutes, then try again. Place the stretched dough on a peel (or overturned cookie sheet or cutting board) that's lightly dusted with semolina or other type of flour.
Lay your potato slices evenly on top of the dough, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Scatter the walnuts and bleu cheese, then top with garlic scapes. Slide the pizza onto the preheated stone in your oven, and bake ~7-10 minutes, until the crust browns and the cheese melts.
Remove the pizza from the oven, and let cool for a moment (I like to move it to a rack for just half a minute, to let the steam escape from the crust while I reheat the peel). Sprinkle with a touch of salt, slice and serve.