What more of a challenge than to play around with a basic favorite, the potato, and cook up something new?
Bev Jones of Brunswick, Mo., took on the challenge and won first prize in a recent recipe contest organized by the Idaho Potato Commission.
Her winning entry is this potato-based pizza that starts with a layer of finely sliced potatoes baked into a crust, then topped with basil pesto, fresh feta and Parmesan cheeses, chicken and red bell pepper.
The result: An inventive way to combine familiar things into a bright-tasting new dish.
I usually cook the pizza for my husband and myself and we eat it hot for a meal, Jones said in a phone interview. But for a party its really fun, too, cut in small slices. Its nice to have something you can make ahead and serve at room temperature.
Jones, who works part-time in an insurance office, says that when shes home she spends much of her time in the kitchen, trying out ideas, devising new recipes. Cooking is something I absolutely love, she says. Its just such a creative outlet for me.
Idaho Potato Crusted Pizza
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons cornstarch
11/2 pounds Idaho potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into rings
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper and cornstarch; set aside. Using a food processor or mandoline, slice potatoes very thinly and place them in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle half of the cornstarch mixture over the potato slices; toss the potatoes, then sprinkle them with the remaining cornstarch mixture, and toss again.
Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over a 12-inch round pizza pan. Layer the potatoes on the pan, overlapping the slices in concentric circles (cover the pan completely). Sprinkle the potatoes with the broth, brush them with the remaining oil, then press the potatoes down firmly with your clean hands to compact them into a crust. Move the oven rack to its lowest position, and bake the potato crust for 20 to 30 minutes, or until edges are browned and potatoes are tender.
Remove the potato crust from the oven and spread the pesto over the potatoes using a rubber spatula. Top the pizza with the cooked chicken, pepper rings, feta and Parmesan cheese. Return the pizza to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until feta is softened and the pizza is heated through. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil and cut into wedges. Use a spatula to loosen the potato crust from the pan.
Makes 6 main-course servings, or 8 appetizer servings.
Nutrition information per serving as main course: about 430 cal., 47 mg chol., 854 mg sodium, 18 g pro., 24 g fat, 37 g carbo.
Nutrition information per serving as appetizer: about 323 cal., 35 mg chol., 641 mg sodium, 14 g pro., 18 g fat, 28 g carbo.