Leek and potato pizza

I teach Norwegian. Most of my students learn Norwegian because they want to move to Norway. Away from the overpopulated and completely man-landscaped Netherlands into Europe’s last wilderness.

They ask me why I don’t move there, too, since I already speak the language.

I give various, evasive answers. But one of the truest reasons is that I don’t really want to move somewhere where the growing season is even shorter than here. Right now, I am all for the spring to begin, for the sun to show up again, the temperature to rise and the birds to start singing. Normally, around this time I’m already busy sowing directly in the garden. Yesterday we were skiing in Germany. And while snow is fun, gardening is more fun.

Surprisingly though, I am still not tired of winter vegetables.

Because of the unvoluntary move of our allotment, we have very little winter vegetables from the garden at the moment. Leeks, our winter standby, have not done well this year. They started rotting due to excessive moisture. The variety is probably to blame, too. This was the first winter since I started growing vegetables that we have not eaten leeks weekly. And as the crocuses are coming up which really is a sign that spring is on its way, I panic: I haven’t made a leek tart yet! And not my favorite potato-fennel-leek gratin!

But I have made this leek and potato pizza and it was great. It is another pizza recipe from the no-knead genius Jim Lahey. He really convinced me that you can put any vegetable on pizza and it will be delicious, if you treat it right. In the case of leeks, it means treating them the same way as the broccoli rabe in this recipe – putting them on top of pizza smeared with bechamel. The vegetables here are the same as in this soup, but the result is vastly different: creamy with the bechamel and crisp at the same time as the potatoes bake into almost potato chips. One year ago: Caramelized garlic tart

Leek and potato pizza
from My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home
by Jim Lahey
The recipe makes more béchamel sauce than you’ll need if only making 1 pizza, but you can keep the rest in the fridge and use later, either for another pizza or to go with pasta.
On baking: I don’t have a pizza stone and bake the pizza on a baking sheet. If you have a pizza stone, you probably know how to use it, and your pizza will be the better for it.

Makes 1 pizza about 25 cm (10 inch) in diameter
100 g (1 small) Yucon potato, peeled and sliced paper-thin
120 g (1 ¼ cups) chopped leeks, white part only
1 ball of pizza dough (no-knead dough or your favorite recipe)
40 g (about 2 ½ tbsp) béchamel sauce (see bellow)
40 g (2/3) cup) finely grated Gruyére cheese
leaves from 1 rosemary sprig
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius (500 Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes.
Place the potato slices in a small saucepan with generously salted water. Bring the water to a boil, then drain the potatoes and set aside to cool.
Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the chopped leeks snd blanche until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and set aside.
Shape the pizza dough (see here for instructions), spread the béchamel evenly over the surface, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, leeks, cheese, rosemary and pepper along with a drizzle of olive oil and toss everything to coat.

Distribute the potato mixture evenly over the dough. Drizzle with a bit more oil.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp and the crust is blistered.
Serve immediately.

Béchamel sauce
makes about two cups, enough for about 4 pizzas
250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
55 g (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
a pinch of ground nutmeg

Pour about 1/3 of the milk onto a saucepan, add butter and heat while stirring, until the butter melts.
Meanwhile, put the flour in a medium bowl, add remaining milk and whisk into a slurry. Ladle some of the warm mixture into the cold flour mixture to warm it. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and whisk it in. Add salt.
Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture frequently, as it cooks and thickens. The béchamel is done when it has reached the consistency of a runny sauce or heavy cream.
Grate in the nutmeg and allow to cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Use the béchamel immediately or cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Bring it back to room temperature before using.


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