Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.
My grandfather kept a kitchen garden—his was the last generation in which doing so was a given—and he was serious about it. He would plant almost an acre of vegetables every summer that helped to feed him and his family of nine. My grandmother would preserve the harvest that fed the family throughout the year. When you’re harvesting that many veggies, you need a big family to help. I remember sitting on the back of the plow as a young boy, adding what weight I could to force the blades into the earth as he dragged the tractor through rows of potatoes, the white tubers spilling out of the ground and toppling over themselves. Harvesting potatoes is magical in the way of digging for buried treasure—you can’t imagine how many are waiting for you under the ground.
I now keep a kitchen garden too. While it is not nearly as large or as successful as my grandfather’s, I still plant potatoes. It might be the most fun vegetable to plant and harvest. In the spring I walk slowly through the garden, cutting sprouted spuds into pieces, dropping them in the bed. I mound dirt on top and wait about three months. Then, some time in August (this week, this year), we dig them up and watch them spill out—a moment that has not lost its magic and mystery.
If you have a garden, you know the feeling I encounter every time I harvest a vegetable. I don’t just want to make sautéed zucchini with the zucchini or a tomato salad with the tomatoes. I want to show off my harvest. Potatoes are no different. Sure, potato salad or baked potatoes are wonderful things, but they don't do the work of growing spuds justice. But some years ago I tried potato pizza for the first time and never looked back. I made potato pizza this weekend and fed it to my guests. One, after taking her first bite of crisped potato topping, called it potato chip pizza—a perfect title for a dish that really lets the humble, hidden potatoes shine.
Potato Chip Pizza With Herbs
Serves 6 to 8
This pizza might sound a little unusual but is fairly standard fare in Italy. This version is based on Jim Lahey’s Pizza Patate, which he serves at his New York City restaurant Company.
1 pound waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh herbs, such as rosemary, savory, or oregano
1 pizza dough
Peel the potatoes if desired, then slice as thinly as possible on a slicer into a large bowl. Cover the potatoes with warm water, and then stir in 2 tablespoons of salt. Let the potatoes stand in the water for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Drain the potatoes and pat dry. Toss the potatoes with the onion, oil, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the herbs.
Preheat the oven to 475° F.
Divide the dough in half, and place each half on an oiled baking sheet. Stretch the dough out to the edges of the pan, letting it rest for a minute if it pulls back too much. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the dough.
Bake the pizzas until the crust is golden on the bottom and the potatoes are browned in places, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pizzas to cutting boards and cut into pieces. Serve.
Makes enough for 1 large pizza
This dough is my standard pizza dough, and it serves as a platform for all kinds of pizzas and flatbreads. Using bread flour results in a slightly chewier and crispier crust, but all-purpose flour produces a perfectly wonderful pizza crust without any special ingredients.
1 ounce fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon active dried yeast)
1 cup warm water
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment and mix until they come together and form a ball around the paddle. Scrape the dough back into the bowl, and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until it is doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to an oiled baking sheet and stretch to the edges, letting it rest for a minute if it is pulling back and refusing to cooperate. (Those are the glutens in the dough pulling it back. By giving them a minute to relax, they become more compliant.)