Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leftovers Pizza

Do you eat your leftovers as leftovers? Sometimes we do that here, especially if dinner transports or reheats easily for lunch the next day. Sometimes, though, you get stuck with bits and bobs and pieces of things that might not make sense alone, plain, reheated. When that happens, it's nice to turn them into something else. Tonight we took some leftover mashed sweet potatoes and fried them into loose patties with leftover braised leeks. They were structurally unsound, but tasty and here's the kicker: it wasn't exactly the same thing we ate yesterday.

One of my favorite ways to jazz up leftovers is to throw them on a pizza crust. The opening photo features leftover roasted root vegetables that had gone with a chicken, and some leftover Acorn Squash with Chili Lime Vinaigrette. I mashed up some goat cheese with some leftover vinaigrette, plopped it on the crust, topped with the chopped vegetables, and voila! Pizza! Drizzled with a little olive oil it and alongside a glass of wine it made a mighty fine dinner, and I felt awfully thrifty.

Occasionally you may find yourself with a seemingly bizarre mix of flavors, but you just have to pretend you run a fancy artisan pizza place and trust your instincts that weird combinations will in fact be delicious. Take this leftovers pizza from earlier this week: tomato sauce, extra from some pasta. emmental cheese, some sauteed kale that was just hanging out in the fridge. A little pepper jack for good measure. And one sliced hot dog, because there was only one, we were out of buns, and why not? It's been tasty before. When this came out of the oven, we ate it with mustard and sauerkraut. Heck yes we did.

What's the weirdest leftovers pizza you've ever made?

Speaking of leftovers - for a brilliant treatise on the subject of leftovers, you should check out this post on Simmer Till Done that includes many uses for the onions from that giant batch of french onion soup you just made.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
adapted from Deborah Madison
The key to leftovers pizza (which then becomes leftover leftovers pizza the next morning... heh) is having a reliable crust. I find this one an absolute dream to work with; I use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 cups of all purpose, but you can use as little as 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour in this dough, just increase the AP flour to 3 1/2 cups. Just make sure the total you use is 4 cups of flour. This dough also keeps well in the freezer for about a month, just make sure to take it out the day before you want to use it and let it thaw in the fridge.

1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp yeast,
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup to 1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl, add the yeast to the warm water. Allow to sit for ten minutes; if the yeast begins to foam, continue - if it hasn't started to foam after 10 minutes start over with new yeast.

Add the salt, olive oil and whole wheat flour, and start mixing, then add the white flour. Mix until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead until smooth (5-10 minutes, generally). You may need to add additional flour to the counter to keep it from sticking.

Coat the original bowl with a little bit of olive oil, then add the ball of dough. Turn the dough to coat it with oil so the surface has enough moisture to expand during rising. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled, 40-60 minutes.

Divide the dough in two, shape each piece into a ball, then put the pieces on the counter and cover with a towel. Let rest for another 20-30 minutes. At this point, I put one of the balls of dough into a quart size freezer bag and stash it in the freezer for use later on. Or you could just make two pizzas...

While the dough is resting, start pre-heating your oven and pizza stone (or another upside down cookie sheet) to the highest temperature possible, mine goes to 500 but yours may only go as high as 450. Either way, crank it up. A super hot oven is crucial to good pizza at home.

Take the ball of dough and begin shaping it into a circle on a floured counter or pizza peel (back of a cookie sheet also works). You should be able to get about a 14 inch circle of about 1/4 inch thickness. Cover again with a towel and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

Add the leftovers of your choice (don't be overzealous, too much sauce/cheese can overwhelm a dough, leaving it soggy), and slide the pizza off the peel/cookie sheet onto the stone/cookie sheet. Bake for 8-15 minutes. I start checking mine at 8 - really thin crusts cook very quickly - but if your crust is thick or you used a lot of toppings it may take up to 15 minutes to properly brown.

Remove from the oven (careful, it's VERY hot) and allow to cook for a couple of minutes before slicing so the cheese has a chance to set back up again. Unless you didn't use cheese (hey, it could happen) in which case, dig in!


  1. Nice photo. I had an organic pizza, tonight. Spinach and tomatoes. It was OK. A few weeks ago, a delivered veggie one with artichoke hearts--never ever again.

  2. ooh wow, i love that recipe for the chile-lime acorn squash :) with goat cheese on a pizza? heck yes!

  3. I think the weirdest pizza I made had sliced, cooked leftover potato, leftover garlic-sauteed spinach, and sausage. It was good, but I couldn't quite get over thinking, "Potato on pizza?"

  4. Your leftovers look like works of art! I've made some weird mish-mash creations in my day, like chopping leftover onion rings over homemade mac and cheese. Perfectly weird, and absolutely perfect.

  5. Left over pizza ALL THE TIME... I've done barbqued brisket with chedder (wish it was smoked) fish, any and all vegatables, cooked a plain pizza and served a salad on top!

  6. i love leftovers. your pizzas look so professional!

  7. Here's what I did with my left-over Bruno's pizza: