Potato Crust Pizza!
By Dennis Linden
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
I am always on the lookout for alternatives to the traditional, yet empty calorie, pizza dough. This one uses yellow potato, supported by just a cup of flour for binding. It is a healthier option of one of kids’ most favorite dishes. The crust actually sets up quite well and ends up crispy firm. The baked twice and short broil stages of this recipe are essential to produce a firm crust that can be eaten out of hand.
The division of labor for this recipe has been separated in two – basic prep (what the kids can do) and all the stovetop and oven work (what the supervising adults should do). However, only you can be the judge as to your young sous chefs’ kitchen skills. At some point in their culinary training both the stove and the oven do need to be introduced – under strict supervision, of course. The quick sauté and multiple oven stages in this recipe may be a good place to begin that tutelage – only the parent in the room can make that call.
This is a great hands-on recipe that even the youngest child can help with, as “smushing” the potato mixture out onto the baking sheet is, almost literally, child’s play! The onions in the pizza dough are a nice taste touch that should be pointed out to your kitchen crew as the flavor additive that it is. Be sure that the onion is diced very small to ensure that the potato dough mixture can be spread thin, yet makes a solid crust.
The topping ingredients are very healthy suggestions, though there are obviously a plethora of options. Serving veggies on a pizza is a sure-fire way of getting your kids to eat them; the choice of those veggies might be a good topic for a family discussion in planning the meal. Involving your kids in the process of choosing their vegetables, both for taste and color, can also be a great lesson in being aware of eye appeal as well as pairing flavors together. Pizza making is a very fun and easy way for the family to work together on a meal. That is, if the calorie-laden traditions connected to this dish can be overcome. Substituting this potato dough for bread dough is a slice in the right direction. Plus it’s delicious -- have fun!
Potato Crust Veggie Pizza
Yields: Six large slices
2 cups uncooked Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes
, firmly-packed grated
1 teaspoon Salt
½ medium Yellow Onion
, small dice
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Eggs, beaten
1 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
What the kids can do
Grate the potatoes, place in a large bowl, then add salt and mix thoroughly.
Place potatoes in a colander and let set for 10 minutes.
Squeeze out the excess water using a small bowl, pressing down on the potatoes.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onion, flour, and eggs.
Butter a 15x10-inch baking sheet.
Pat potato mixture into prepared baking sheet.
What the supervising adult should do
Preheat oven to 425°. Once the kids have finished with the potato mixture, bake 15 minutes. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and then bake another 10 minutes. Place under broiler; broil 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and return oven temperature to 425°F.
½ medium-sized Zucchini Squash
, thinly sliced into rounds
½ medium-sized Yellow Squash, thinly sliced into rounds
½ medium-sized Yellow Bell Pepper
½ medium-sized Red Bell Pepper
½ Red Onion
, thinly sliced and chopped
2 to 3 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
8 Cherry Tomatoes
4-5 Fresh Basil Leaves
, stems removed, cut or torn into thin strips
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
What the Kids can do
Prepare and measure out all ingredients before starting recipe.
In a large bowl, combine zucchini, summer squash, yellow pepper, red pepper, onion, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Once the vegetable mixture is cooked, spread cooked vegetables and cherry tomato quarters over baked potato crust.
Sprinkle with basil and mozzarella cheese.
What the supervising adult should do
In a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the vegetable mixture until they are crisp tender, stirring often. Remove pan from heat, let cool so the kids can spread the crust with vegetable mix, basil and cheese. Bake approximately 5 to 7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately.