Another Sam Veneracion original. Original idea, that is. That’s the current dynamics between her and her vegetarian diet, on the one hand, and me and her vegetarian diet, on the other. She dreams up a dish; I execute it. What inspired this vegetarian mock pizza with smashed potato crust, I am not sure. But Sam likes poring over the food photos on Pinterest so it’s possible that she saw something similar, tweaked it in her head and relayed the idea to me. I don’t think I disappointed her with this one.
So, what went into this dish? A large potato, a bell pepper, an onion, a couple of tomatoes and three kinds of cheese — sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack and feta. There are three cooking methods involved — boiling, shallow frying and baking. It may sound like a lot of work but it really isn’t since the recipe is meant to feed one person only.
For people without a proper oven, this dish can go into an oven toaster without turning into a disaster.
Start with a large potato. Boil it in generously salted water, drain it and, while hot, place on a sheet of parchment paper and give it a whack right at the center.
Heat about a tablespoon of butter in a non-stick frying pan. Slide the smashed potato into the pan and fry over medium-high heat until the underside is golden and crisp. That’s your crust. Slide it onto an oven-proof plate.
Get your tomatoes, bell pepper and onion. Slice them all into thin rings. Arrange them in layers on top of the smashed potato crust. Sprinkle salt and pepper between the layers.
Grate some cheese. About half a cup. You don’t have to use what I did. Go with what you have; no need to be fussy. Sprinkle over the vegetables.
Bake the “pizza” in a preheated 475F oven just until the cheese melts and the vegetables are heated through.
Take the plate out of the oven. Sprinkle the “pizza” with crumbled feta and snipped parsley. Serve at once.