Category Archives: Fusion

Fusion Pizza: Sweet Potato Crust with Kale and Vegetable Curry

The Moroccan Fusion Pizza was such a success I decided to create another fusion pizza! I had some sweet potatoes that had been languishing in the fridge for too long, and were begging to be used before they became a new life form. I remembered reading a recipe for sweet potato biscuits, so I decided that if you could make biscuits out of sweet potatoes, you can make pizza dough! This thought process led me immediately to crunchy kale, because nothing goes better with sweet potatoes than kale. (Except maybe black beans). Unfortunately for my fridge, I had stocked for my original weekend plan of Vegetable Curry, and now with the change of plans those vegetables were looking forlorn and forgotten. So I made the curry anyway, and topped the pizza creation with a nice spicy, saucy, vegetable curry. The result? Fantastic! These fusion pizzas are the way to go! Unexpected flavours when you say the word ‘pizza’, these heavily topped flatbreads are mouth-wateringly delicious. And as an extra bonus, you will have curry leftovers for lunch the next day.

For the vegetable curry topping, I used this vegetable curry recipe. It is very quick to throw together, and I found the idea of making a fresh tomato puree sauce unique. The tomato puree sauce is a new culinary trick that I will keep in my back pocket for other opportunities – it would make a great salad dressing, dipping sauce, or even a cold soup like gazpacho! For the vegetables I used all leftover and forlorn veg in my fridge. This version had extra cauliflower, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and carrots. I added broccoli to the mix, because slightly charred broccoli is perhaps more delicious than slightly charred kale. But only slightly. The curry was delicious on its own, with layers of flavours reminiscent of Northern Indian curries with a nice kick at the end. The only improvement I would make would be to add some red lentils to simmer with the tomato puree sauce for extra creaminess and a bit of protein. 

As the curry already had a tomato sauce, I skipped the sauce step of the ‘flatbread + sauce + toppings’ formula of a pizza. Instead, after baking the crust I lined the base with a healthy amount of kale, and then added a mound of curry. This technique was excellent and far exceeded expectations. The kale near the edge of the pizza turned nice and crispy, and the centre pieces became soft and marinated with that delicious curry flavour! The crust itself was one of the best I have ever had. The dough is quite sticky, and parchment paper here is worth its weight in gold. The crust comes out still soft with some crispy edges, and is almost nutty in flavour, thanks to the quinoa flour. It would be delicious on its own as a flatbread, focaccia, or even baked a bit more for some breadsticks used for dipping vessels! Plus, it’s orange. Who doesn’t like coloured food? With the kale and curry topping, it is one of the prettiest pizzas I have ever made!

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, cooled (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup spelt flour (chickpea flour or more quinoa flour would also be delicious!)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. cold water
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In large bowl, mix all ingredients together
2) Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheet
3) Bake at 400 dF for 10 min.
4) Allow to cool slightly, then add toppings.

5) Once pizza topped, bake in oven 20 min. Allow to cool slightly.
Slice and serve!

Bet you can’t eat just one!

 


Fusion Pizza: Chickpea Flatbread with Moroccan Curried Tomatoes

Pizza. A simple concept of a base, a sauce, and toppings. Fiercely debated as to who invented the dish as we know it (the Italians vs. the USA), the definition becomes hazy when authenticity is claimed. I do not claim any of my pizzas to be authentic, and believe that the base can be a tortilla shell, the sauce a spinach-asparagus puree, and toppings from artichokes to that carrot that has been in your crisper for an unknown amount of time. From fancy to clean-out-the-fridge, it’s all pizza to me!

This creation I am calling Moroccan Pizza. It is based off of two recipes in the Millennium Cookbook by Eric Tucker, which is very quickly rising to challenge Veganomicon as the standby cookbook of choice. The crust is the Chickpea Flatbread (page 7), and the topping is the filling for the Moroccan Filo Crescents (page 114-116). The Chickpea Flatbread was extremely easy to prepare and was quite tasty by itself. It would make a great addition to a hummus and baba ghanouj platter, easily rising to the challenge of a dipping vessel! The texture of the flatbread was slightly rubbery however, which although tasty I don’t know if I would eat it alone. The Filo Crescent filling was definitely the star. The Curried Tomato Sauce is nothing short of genius, and the chickpea flatbread soaked up the wonderful flavours to savoury perfection, without becoming mushy! The additional filling is a tagine of eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. Gloriously paired with the curried tomatoes, this pizza was a sure-fire winner. (The Filo dish is the image on the front cover, so you know it must be a star of the book!). The best description I could give is the best curried eggplant-tomato tagine you have ever had, with the pita bread already soaked with the flavours while maintaining its function as a utensil. Delicious down to the last bite, this pizza – and its components – are all now favourites!

Like other Millennium recipes I have reviewed, you can use the Google Book Preview to scroll to the Chickpea Flatbread (page 7) and Moroccan Filo Crescents (page 114-116) recipes. To cook the pizza, I made the flatbread, and allowed it to cool. To help with the flavour saturation, I stabbed the top with a fork a couple of times before topping with the curried tomato sauce and the tagine. I then baked it at 400 dF for 20 min. Enjoy your Moroccan Pizza experience!


Pesto Moussaka-Lasagna

The lovechild of lasagna and moussaka

On an evening where I was at a loss in the kitchen, I was inspired by many ingredients that only seem unrelated. I was tired of winter stews, chilis, and soups and wanted something fresh and spring-like. I had an incredible craving for Edamame Pesto, and wanted a medium that would make the pesto the star of the show. I also wanted lasagna and moussaka, but wanted the edamame pesto more. So of course I combined all inputs to this delectable lasagna-moussaka that is as delicious as it is green!

The edamame pesto recipe is, in my opinion, the best pesto recipe out there, bar none. My first experience with pesto was in a hostel in Oslo. If you have ever travelled to Oslo, you know that food is ridiculously expensive and you can almost feel your change purse get lighter just smelling the bakery scents on the street. A stop at the grocery store got me some Ichiban and a jar of pesto sauce. A quick stop at the 7/11 and I got a coffee stir stick as a utensil. Using some ingenuity, I cooked the noodles in the cup and stirred in the pesto sauce: instant dinner. Although good at the time, later in the evening I felt horrible. Enter the ‘pesto baby’. At 4:30am I vowed never to eat pesto like that again. This edamame pesto is light, fresh, lemony, and not oily at all – everything I think the Italians originally meant pesto to be. Serious deliciousness with a 5min cook time. Nothing wrong with that!

The cauliflower ricotta was a similar surprise. Usually I make the tofu ricotta from Veganomicon and have been pleased. Not blown away, just pleased. Roasting the cauliflower then mashing it with my new avocado masher (one of the best “useless” kitchen gadgets out there!) turned the ho-hum tofu ricotta into a BAM! moment. So much flavour just from the cauliflower alone! Once again, Isa hits it out of the park.

I used the Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz as my base inspiration. The complete recipe can be found here. Instead of tomato sauce, I used the Edamame Pesto recipe from the same book, which can be found here. Finally, to make the lasagna a moussaka, instead of lasagna noodles I roasted one eggplant and three zucchini and used those as the ‘divider’ layers. To roast the vegetables:

1)      Slice them lengthwise in ~3-5mm thick slices and placed on parchment-lined baking sheets.

2)      Roast at 400dF for ~35min, then let cool in a colander

3)      Before assembling the lasagna/moussaka, gently squeeze excess liquid from the roasted vegetables so the casserole doesn’t get too soupy.

To assemble the lasagna/moussaka:

1)      Spread a bit of pesto on the bottom of a lightly oiled 9×13” pan

2)      Layer some roasted vegetables on top

3)      Dollop some pesto on the roasted vegetables, then spread evenly

4)      Dollop some ricotta on top of the pesto, and spread evenly

5)      Layer some fresh spinach on top of the ricotta

6)      Repeat the layers until the pan is full, ending with ricotta. I got 2 full layers, but I have a shallow pan – you may get 3 or even 4!

7)      Bake at 350dF for 40min. Let set up for 10min (if you can wait that long!) before cutting into pieces.

It’s that easy! Exactly what I was craving, combining all my ‘must have’s’ in one glorious slice of heaven. Light, lemony, pesto-y (without the pesto baby), and chalk full of flavour, this dish is now a go-to recipe!

Update:

I made this lasagna recently with a “winter” theme. Layers were made with roasted butternut squash slices, celeriac root slices, and swiss chard. Pesto and butternut squash you ask? Have some faith – it’s delicious! This winter theme proved to be just as successful as the zucchini-eggplant version with the added bonus of being less watery. It turned out to be almost a stuffed layered sandwich, perfect for toting to work as leftovers. Delectable down to the last morsel!

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna

Butternut Celeriac Pesto Lasagna with Swiss Chard


Fatayer Kolokithopita

Lebanese spinach pies meets Greek pumpkin pies in one tasty bundle!

Fatayer Kolokithopita: Lebanese spinach pies meet Greek pumpkin phyllo triangles in one tasty package!

Inspired by the fatayer at a local Lebanese restaurant, I immediately wanted to re-create the dish at home. However, I had some ideas to tweak the inspiration to better suit my pantry. First, the fatayer in the restaurant came in these cute dough square parcels, which seemed like a LOT of work. I am an old hand at empanadas and perogies, but these parcels made me pause. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to use up that spare box of phyllo dough that was hanging out in my freezer instead. The phyllo thought made me think of Greece, which led me to spanikopita. However, I already had the spinach component covered in these fatayer, so I researched other things Greeks do with phyllo. Turns out quite a lot! One such item is kolokithopita, which is a pumpkin phyllo pie that can be either sweet (think pumpkin pie) or savoury. Looking at the ingredients from the recipes I found, I quickly discovered that the list of ingredients for the kolokithopita was almost the same as that of the fatayer. Limited by my supply of phyllo pastry, this seemed like kismet. So fusion fatayer kolokithopita was born!

I baked the triangles instead of pan-frying them which is why they appear pale in the picture. I like them better this way because when reheating you can just stick them in a frying pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil and re-brown the sides. This makes the leftovers nice and crunchy, and just like if they were made fresh – in 5min or less! They are extremely tasty and addictive. Be forewarned however – due to the onion in the recipe you will be chasing away vampires for a long time after eating! Bring some mints if you’re going to eat them at work.

The original fatayer recipe is from Food.com, and I added 1c. of pumpkin puree to the mix. The original fatayer recipe can be found here if you don’t have phyllo lying around for experimentation and feel the urge to challenge your dough-parcel making abilities – I won’t stop you! Lebanese Spinach Pies. My adapted recipe is below, for those of you who have had a box of phyllo dough staring you in the face for the past six months. 🙂

Fatayer Kolokithopita

4c. fresh spinach, stems removed and chopped finely

0.5t. salt

3 large red onions, diced

0.5c. lemon juice

1 pinch fresh black pepper

1c. natural pumpkin puree

1 package phyllo dough, thawed

Directions:

To make filling:

1) In large bowl, mix spinach and salt together until spinach appears ‘bruised’ (darker in some spots). Let sit while you prepare the onions.

2) Dice the onions and add to bruised spinach.

3) Mix in lemon juice, pepper, and pumpkin puree.

To make triangles:

*Note* There are various ways to do this, and everybody has their preference. I was going to explain it, but some things are just better in pictures! Here is the most comprehensive step-by-step guide: How to make phyllo triangles. I put in ~1 tbsp. of filling for each triangle.

If that process seems daunting but you want the goodness of Fatayer Kolokithopitas, no worries!

Take one sheet of phyllo dough and lightly spritz with cooking oil (or brush with butter, if that’s how you roll). Overlay another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, and lightly spritz with cooking oil. Continue until you have a stack of four sheets. This is your pie ‘base’.

Place your pie base in a lightly greased 9″x13″ pan, and dump the filling on top. Smooth out the filling so it’s reasonably even.

Make another pie crust of four layers of phyllo dough, and set on top of filling. Tuck edges in however you like.

Regardless of how the filling gets into the dough, bake at 350dF for 20-25min (40-45min for casserole method), or until tops nice and brown.

Enjoy!


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