Sweet Potato & Bacon Pizza

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These days, September races by without stop.  At work, we are still (sometimes literally) packing away summer while we kick off our Fall season.  This means bringing in over 100 students to start working on four different weekend programs and preparing our 30+ after school teaching team to begin classes at as many schools.  It’s hectic, with one deadline after another, but also full of inspiration (hello, 100 children acting/singing/dancing with so much confidence in auditions!) and creativity (writing new scripts, casting, preliminary costume and set designs, etc).  In October, once we get past everything that is beginning, the routine will come.  Until then, its mostly just holding on for the ride.  I am also settling into the rhythm of Fall semester classes and M is settling in for a busy holiday season full of events.  Amidst this mild chaos, I am trying to keep  up my meal planning and trying to keep the focus on healthier foods as we shift towards Fall flavors.  It isn’t always successful–I’ll readily admit that I am a stress eater.  Or at least, a stress craver.  I don’t always give in!  And when this pizza craving struck, I tried to think out of the box.

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Years ago, right as I began to cut gluten from my diet, we went to the Dan’l Webster Inn in Massachusetts with my family.  I jumped at the chance to order their gluten-free pizza.  As a somewhat recent convert to the sweet potato fandom (thank you, freshman year dining hall for otherwise terrible food options), the Sweet Potato & Bacon pizza was very intriguing.  Sweet potato? On a pizza?!  With onions and gorgonzola cheese and bacon and balsamic vinegar?  It was too weird of a combination to resist.  And then, it came out with a layer of fresh greens.  Super weird!  But I am sooooo glad that I ordered it because, together, all those weird foods are AMAZING.  This pizza covers all of the flavor points: savory, earthy, salty, sweet, tangy, nutty, chewy, crunchy, fresh!  It was definitely life-changing, and I’ve gone on to attempt to recreate this pizza several times.   I’ve also stuffed the ingredients (minus the pizza crust) into baked sweet potatoes.  Also delicious.  We just went back to the Dan’l Webster Inn when we were up visiting my dad this summer and I finally realized that I was forgetting the “creamy pine nut spread” in all of my copy-cat attempts.  With this final factor, I’ve have been able to perfect my recipe!

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Now, this pizza isn’t exactly on that healthy list–but it isn’t as bad as a pizza could be, either!  By using ingredients that have super strong flavors, you can scale back on the amount of each used.  It’s almost a flatbread-style, which in my book means a small amount–if any–‘sauce’ and an equally small amount of cheese.  This focuses in on the toppings and means this pizza isn’t going to ooze with sauce or cheese in the same way as regular pizzas.  Add a salad or some roasted veggies on the side, and you can fulfill a pizza craving in the most delicious way!

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Sweet Potato & Bacon Pizza

Serves 4 | Prep time: 45 minutes (divided) | Cook time: 15 minutes

  • 1 large gluten-free pizza crust (a thin-crust style works best here!)
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2-3 oz gorgonzola cheese
  • 1-2 handfuls of arugula
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 batch Creamy Pine Nut Spread (below)

Creamy Pine Nut Spread

  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 sage leaves (or 1/4 tsp. ground sage)
  • 1 Tbsp parmesan, shredded

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Caramelize the onions: Add a splash of oil or butter to a saucepan and coat the surface with the heated oil.  Slice the onions and add to the pan.  Cook over medium heat until softened, then turn the heat down low and cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have turned caramel-brown and shrunk down.  Remove from pan.

Prep the toppings: While the onions are caramelizing, peel the sweet potato and dice into small pieces.  Place in a small pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and cook over med-high for 6-10 minutes, until a fork easily pierces the potato pieces.  Drain thoroughly.

Chop the slices of bacon.  In a sauce pan (can be the same one used for the onions, if they have finished caramelizing and are removed from the pan), add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until the fat has rendered and the pieces are crispy.  Remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate to allow to drain.

Prepare the Creamy Spread: Add the parmesan, pine nuts, stage leaves, garlic, cream cheese, and olive oil to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Make the pizza: If using fresh pizza dough, follow the directions to the point of having it rolled out on a pizza stone, then par-bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.  If using a pre-rolled, stiff crust (like Udi’s) with no instructions for par-baking, place the crust on the pizza stone.

Spread the pine nut mixture across the entire crust, from edge to edge.  It will be a very thin covering.  Sprinkle the onions, then potatoes, then crumbled gorgonzola cheese evenly over the pizza crust.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is softened and the edges of the potato pieces begin to brown.

While the pizza is baking, set the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half and has thickened.  Remove from heat.

Remove the cooked pizza from the oven and immediately top with bacon, then a drizzle of the balsamic reduction.  Finally, top with fresh arugula.

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