I am a person who likes to be challenged. I like to experiment, try new ideas, and learn new techniques all the time. It’s easy to get into a rut in your life, your hobbies, or your work. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with new pizza styles, like the calzone and even focaccia bread, but this past week I was given a new challenge. My fiancee, who is an avid vegetable fan, asked me if I could make a sweet potato pizza. Through my hours of internet pizza browsing, I had come across such a pizza, but I had never thought about venturing into this area of pizza making. It would certainly be a break from my devotion to the classical pizza tradition. But I wondered if I was ready to explore this rabbit hole?
Before I talk more about this specific pizza, I’d like to discuss my philosophy regarding pizza because I believe it is relevant to the pizza we will talk about today. There are many people out there that are strict traditionalists. They would argue that pizza is comprised of crust, a tomato-based sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a handful of select toppings. At one time, I thought this way as well. I was never opposed to anything else, but I simply never thought of a pie with other ingredients as pizza. However, as I have explored the world of pizza more and more, I have learned that pizza is an almost infinitely variable style of food. The regional variations of pizza are so diverse that I think that pizza can come in many different shapes and forms. After tasting and making many of these styles of pizza, I can say that so many different combinations of crust, cheeses, sauces, and toppings can be absolutely delicious. Based on my experience, my rule for great pizza is very simple. Pizza is like a band or a symphony. Each component of the pizza must act in harmony with the other ingredients, and as a whole, the pizza must be greater than the sum of its parts. This guiding principle is what I used to design this sweet potato pizza I’m going to show you how to make today.
As I stated earlier, this pizza recipe was inspired by a challenge by my fiancee to develop a sweet potato pizza. Before I began trying to figure out what toppings I would use for this pizza, I decided how I would like to incorporate the sweet potato. To allow the sweet potato to be the main flavor of the pizza, I decided it would work best as the sauce, especially since I could easily make it spreadable. Following this decision, I had to determine what type of crust I would use.
Choosing the crust was probably the simplest part of the process of developing this pizza. I knew that the pizza would likely be on the heavier side, so I knew that I needed a strong crust that could hold the weight of the pizza, which from my experience the New York style crust has excellent strength due to its high gluten content flour.
While choosing the crust and determining how to make sweet potato pizza sauce were relatively easy, the next part of the recipe making process was more difficult as I had to choose what toppings I would put on the pizza. Remember that making great pizza (really any dish) requires that all of the ingredients work together. Knowing that sweet potatoes have a sweet flavor, I tried to pair toppings that would go well with the sweetness of the potatoes. Since I was trying to maintain balance and harmony among the various ingredients of the pizza, I chose Parmesan as the cheese and sausage and arugula as the toppings. Parmesan was chosen for its nutty flavor, and both the sausage and arugula were chosen for their spicy/peppery flavors. Together, all of these ingredients make a sweet/salty/spicy combination that uses classical flavor profiles in a new and creative way while also making a pizza that is visually appealing and tasty.
The next time you’re thinking about what type of pizza you want to make. Try to push your boundaries. Think outside the box about how you can include new ingredients and styles in your pizza making. If you’re not quite ready to get too creative, you can start by making this sweet potato pizza recipe. Please leave a comment if you make this recipe.
Sweet Potato Pizza with Sausage and Arugula
This pizza recipe is a fresh take on the traditional pizza. It uses a sweet potato puree as the sauce and is topped with Parmesan cheese, Italian sausage, and arugula. This pizza is perfect for the sweet potato lover in your life.
- 286 g (2.5 cups) bread flour
- 177 g (3/4 cup) water
- 1.43 g (1/8 tsp) instant dry yeast
- 5.72 g (1 1/8 tsp) sea salt (fine)
- 2.86 g (1.5 tsp) sugar
Sweet Potato Sauce
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 sausage (spicy Italian)
- 2 handfuls arugula
- 8 oz Parmesan cheese (grated)
Make the Dough
Heat 3/4 cup water in the microwave until warm to the touch. Add this water to a large mixing bowl.
Add 1 1/8 tsp of sea salt. Add 1/8 tsp of instant dry yeast. Stir until mixed. Then, add 2 1/2 cups of bread flour.
Using a spoon or your hand, mix the flour with the yeast and salt mixture until a rough mass of dough is formed.
Flour your hands as well as a work surface and knead the dough until it becomes smooth in texture.
Roll the dough into a ball. Place the dough into an oiled, airtight container and refrigerate. Allow the dough to ferment for 12-48 hours.
Make the Sweet Potato Sauce
To make the sweet potato sauce, begin by heating the oven to 350 F.
Wrap a sweet potato in aluminum foil, and place it in the oven.
Remove the sweet potato from the oven when the center of the potato is soft, 1-2 hours.
Scoop the potato out from inside the skin. Mash the potato until smooth. Add some milk to reduce the thickness of the sweet potato mash. Set aside until ready to top the pizza.
Cook the Sausage
Remove the casing from the sausage.
Using your hands, form small sausage balls.
Using a large skillet, saute the sausage balls until fully cooked. Set aside.
Make the Pizza
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to rest covered for 1 hour at room temperature.
Place a pizza stone or steel in the upper third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C).
Flour your hands and a work surface. Stretch the dough to form a round pie. Please see the link in the recipe notes for more detailed instructions regarding how to stretch pizza dough.
Sprinkle corn meal on a pizza peel, and transfer the pie to the peel.
Using a spoon, spread the sweet potato sauce on top of the dough.
Sprinkle 8 oz of grated Parmesan on top of the sweet potato sauce, and add the sausage.
Transfer the pizza to the oven.
Cook the pizza until the crust begins to develop a light golden brown color. At this time, finish the pizza with 1-2 minutes on the broil setting.
Remove the pizza, and allow it to cool for 5 minutes prior to slicing.
Prepare the dough 1-2 days prior to when you plan to make pizza.