I'll be honest: the appetizer is often the last thing I think about when planning a dinner party. But as someone who can never quite get dinner on the table when expected, I find an appetizer to be all-too necessary for forestalling hunger pangs among my guests. This is where a simple yet elegant first course like this flatbread becomes extremely handy.
I am a sweet potato fiend. I love its earthy-sweet flavor and creamy texture, not to mention the fact that it bakes in a matter of minutes. The arugula on this flatbread adds a nice peppery contrast to the mellowness of the sweet potato.
This is also not an appetizer that will fill you up. For larger dinner parties, I like to cut it into tiny pieces that can be eaten in a bite or two. When the gathering is smaller, larger pieces can become a first course to the main meal.
serves 8 to 16 as an appetizer or 4 as a light dinner
1 pound pizza dough
1 sweet potato (roughly 10 ounces)
1 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, loosely packed
2 ounces arugula (two big handfuls)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone, set it in the oven now.
Use your hands to gently press the pizza dough into a large oval. If the dough starts to spring back, let it rest for a few minutes and then try again. I prefer to roll the dough on top of a piece of parchment paper to make it easier to shuttle the pizza into the oven.
Peel the sweet potato and slice it into thin 1/8" coins (or use a mandoline). Toss the coins with a little olive oil in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, mix the thyme into the ricotta.
Spread the ricotta mixture across the top of the dough. Arrange the sweet potato coins in slightly overlapping layers on top. Sprinkle the entire surface with a little salt.
Bake for 7 minutes and rotate the flatbread. Bake for another 7-8 minutes until the edges of the bread are turning golden and the sweet potatoes are soft. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for one more minute.
Scatter the arugula on top of the flatbread as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let it stand for a few minutes before cutting for the arugula to wilt. Slice and serve either warm or room temperature.
(Images: Emma Christensen)