With Recipe Redux falling on a Saturday this month, lucky you gets spoiled with a bonus recipe! This month’s theme is recreating a healthier version of a favorite food memory, and I’m put a new spin on one of the, um, more interesting meals I’ve ever had. But first, let me share why this meal has become one of my favorite food memories.
If there’s one question I’m asked more than anything else, it’s if my husband eats the same way I do. Usually it’s with one raised eyebrow and a suspicious facial expression. I love to answer this question, because it’s a great example of how people’s tastes can change. Growing up, he was never a healthy eater. When we met, his diet consisted of fast food, turkey sandwiches and cube steak. Even worse – he didn’t know what guacamole was. How we ended up together is beyond me.
Now, he eats exactly the same foods I prepare and share on this blog, without complaint. Even when I’m out of town, he makes things like quinoa salad and grilled fish tacos. And he currently holds a PhD in guacamole. There was never any fighting over getting him to eat more nutritious foods. I just cooked a delicious dinner I knew I would enjoy and served it (here’s the trick) without calling it healthy.
If there is any doubt as to where he started, let me tell you about the first meal he cooked for me, which is now one of my favorite food memories (although sometimes I wish I could forget it!).
A few months after we started dating my senior year, Scott invited me over to his house to cook dinner. Having just started dating and still not 100% sure of his feelings for me, this was a big deal. I wasn’t expecting champagne and lobster tails, but at least something he put a little effort into.
When I walked in the door, I ran into his best friend, David, who could barely contain his laughter. Then I saw Scott, sweating away in the kitchen as he cooked. What was the fancy meal he created?
Spaghetti with jarred tomato sauce, canned spinach and mashed potatoes.
What. On. Earth.
I couldn’t even choke it down. It was SO BAD! To this day we laugh about that meal. And to this day, Scott defends it by saying ‘at least I made my mashed potatoes with real potatoes!’ No excuse, Scott, no excuse.
Last weekend, Scott, David, his wife Helen and I went to the mountains for a weekend at Helen’s family home. For dinner, I created this pizza inspired by that first meal. Spinach – check. Tomato – check. Carb on carb – check. Granted, I took some artistic liberty, but I think we can all agree it needed the makeover!
We had such an amazing time, reminiscing over college memories, cooking together and getting to bed before midnight. It was a great reminder of how much we’ve grown up together over the last eight years. So many things have changed, thankfully, including Scott’s taste in food, yet our bond has just grown!
- 1 cup water heated to 110 degrees, almost too hot to touch (I put mine in the microwave for about 1½ minutes)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) instant or rapid rise yeast
- 2¾ cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 bag of baby spinach
- ⅓ cup olive tapenade, or finely chopped olives
- 2-3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 small-medium Yukon gold potato, thinly sliced on a mandolin
- ½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- To make the crust, mix together water, sugar, olive oil and yeast in a measuring cup and allow to sit and proof for 5 minutes.
- In a food processor, mix the flour and salt until combined. While running, slowly pour in the liquid mixture until it combines into a dough. You may need to scrape down the sides once or twice. Pour it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times until it comes together into a dough.
- Cut the dough in half, roll into a ball and place in a seasoned, medium-large cast iron skillet (mine is 8 inches). Press down to cover the bottom of the skillet.
- Spread half the olive tapenade over the crust, then top with half the sun dried tomatoes and half the spinach. Arrange the potato rounds over the top. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over it. Sprinkle with salt.
- Place in the oven and bake about 14-16 minutes until potatoes are tender and the crust is lightly golden. Carefully remove from skillet with a spatula, let sit for a minute then cut into slices and serve.