When did you have your first sweet potato? Was it in Grandma’s sweet potato pie? Or were your first sweet potatoes whipped with brown sugar and spices for Thanksgiving’s casserole? My first sweet potatoes were surely sweet. They were candied or baked into a pie, and I absolutely fell in love with this orange vegetable. It’s hard to believe that it is indeed a vegetable when you eat it in such a sweet fashion. When I had my first no-frills sweet potato, it was drizzled with olive oil, baked and sprinkled with just a touch of crunchy sea salt. The restaurant served me my favorite vegetable in its most true form. I remember eating that sweet potato as a child and realizing that it was still just as good as baked, even without the brown sugar.
Sweet potatoes have made their way to the top of my list for favorite vegetables. I cannot resist the earthy, natural sugars that burst forth once cooked. For that reason, sweet potatoes are the perfect pair with savory ingredients. One of my favorite ways to include them in my diet is pizza. Pizza can be a great dinner option, as it allows you the freedom to mix and match as you choose when it comes to toppings. Thinly sliced baked sweet potatoes are layered with bourbon-laced onions and spicy Italian sausage and peppery arugula. A thin mixture of garlic and rosemary cream adds depth of flavor as well. Although this pizza is a great omnivore treat, you could substitute vegan sausage and vegan cream cheese to make it vegetarian or vegan-friendly. This sweet potato pizza pie will make you crave your vegetables day in and day out.
Sweet Potato, Sausage and Caramelized Onion Pizza – Serves 8
- 1 pizza dough
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled
- 2 sweet potatoes, with peel
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Italian sausage links, sliced thinly
- 2 red onions, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups fresh arugula
- Wrap the head of garlic in foil and place it on a baking sheet, along with the sweet potatoes. Roast in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes have just begun to soften. Remove from oven to cool slightly, and turn oven’s heat up to 450 degrees.
- While the potatoes cool, heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium flame. Once hot, add the sausage and brown, cooking until done according to package directions. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
- Add the onions directly into the same pan in which the sausage cooked and toss them around in the oil. Cook until they have begun to wilt and turn translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the bourbon, brown sugar and water. Mix well, then cook another 4-6 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- By now the garlic should be just cool enough to touch. Carefully squeeze each clove out of the peel, mashing with your fingers as they come out. Stir the roughly mashed cloves into the cream cheese, along with the rosemary, salt and lemon juice, until you have a smooth consistency.
- The sweet potatoes should also be just cool enough to touch. If not, wait a few more minutes. When ready, slice each one into 1/4″ rounds.
- Roll out the pizza dough onto a floured surface to the shape of your pizza pan or stone, then carefully place onto the pan or stone. Spread the garlic and cream cheese mixture all around the dough, making sure to cover the surface evenly. Sprinkle the arugula on top, followed by the sweet potatoes and cooked sausage. Top the pizza with the onions.
- Slide pizza into the oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until the crust is browned, crispy and the onions have darkened in color just slightly. Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.