I had yesterday afternoon off due to a local public holiday. A monday after my own heart! Seeing I had more time on hands for making dinner than on a usual weekday, I made a spinach pizza I had read about in Clare Ferguson's street food and which had been on my mind for a while. It seems that the pizza topped with spinach, raisins and pine nuts is an Italian specialty, but I have never encountered it on trips to Italy or I would doubtlessly have tried it. I twisted the recipe a bit, using mostly potatoes for the base, omitting the pine nuts and adding smoked ham and, um, goat cheese (yes, I know, I'm having a bit of a phase, maybe it can be blamed on hormones) so the outcome was no longer Italian, but more like a European medley. The potato dough made for a nice change from the usual pizza base, it had an earthy, just very slightly sweetish taste and while it was soft on the inside, the crust was golden and crispy.
I started by making the potato dough, using:
- 150g potatoes
- 1 egg
- 20g butter
- 2 heaped tablespoons flour
- 2 heaped tablespoons semolina
- salt and nutmeg
I cooked to potatoes in their skins, peeled them while still hot and pushed them through a fine sieve. You could use a food mill, of course, I briefly considered using mine, but it was stacked away on the top shelf of the cupboard and then the prospect of cleaning it - so a sieve it was. I added the egg, the butter, the flour and the semolina to the potatoes and mixed everything thoroughly, then seasoned the dough with salt and nutmeg. I then spread it into a round baking tray ( 24 cm diameter) and baked it in the preheated oven at 220° until it was golden and crispy on the sides.
For the topping, I took:
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 300g frozen spinach
- 1 small handful raisins
- 30g goat cheese (the crumbly kind), cut into small pieces
- 6 small slices dry-cured ham
- salt, pepper
I fried the onion and garlic in the olive oil, added the spinach and let it simmer for some time, adding the raisins once the spinach had thawed, letting it simmer for another few minutes. Once all the excess moisture had evaporated, I seasoned the spinach generously with salt and pepper and distributed it evenly on the pre-baked potato base, topping it with the goat cheese. I baked the pizza for another few minutes until the cheese just started to melt, removed it from the oven, laid the ham across, sprinkled the pizza with a little more pepper and dinner was served. I liked my pan-european pizza (I can almost hear Italian readers gasp - to call this a pizza!), it's nutritious with an interesting combination of flavours complementing each other. Forgive me for coming across as smug cook, but I thought the last-minute-addition of the ham was quite clever - the ham warms up ever so slightly which really brings out its taste, but there is no risk of it going too hard as it is not baked. Some of you will want to leave out the ham to make this a veggie dish, but it's just that the ham makes this so good - ok, ok, if you must. Add some toasted pine nuts to the spinach instead.