Potato, Ham, & Pesto Pannolino
Word of warning: Beware the burn.
Pizza pans are a great alternative to pizza stones. Those little holes in the pan allow for hot oven air to circulate around your beautifully-baking pizza, resulting in a crisp, evenly-baked crust — all without having to preheat a pizza stone to temperatures approaching that of the Earth’s core. The burn of which I warn is the oven-floor smoldering that can result as fluid-exudate (juices from veggies, drippy sauces, etc.) dribbles through those aerating holes to incinerate on the bottom of your screaming hot oven. Unless you enjoy feeling like you’re trapped in a windowless Texas smokehouse, serenaded by your smoke detector, for a solid half hour, certain precautions are in order when preparing this recipe.
First of all, if swaddled properly, you can prevent too much liquid from seeping out of the pannolino during baking. Also, placing an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet on the rack below your baking pan acts as a great chamber pot in case your baby springs a leak.
Finally, if you want to TOTALLY prevent the oven burn, you can just bake your pannolino on a well-greased cookie sheet — no holes. However, without holes for air/heat circulation, this baking method comes with the risk of a soggy bottom, one of the biggest faux-pas in the baking world.
Now that you’ve been thoroughly warned, let’s discuss this beauty! The weave, commonly used in pastries, gives a pretty finish to this savory pizza-riff. All you have to do is alternate the dough strips, tucking each one like you’re wrapping a diaper. Though it looks complicated, the weave is actually quite easy — just follow the pictures below to wow and impress your guests!
Potato, ham, and pesto, smothered in melty mozzarella make for a fun, summery dinner, but you can certainly stick to more traditional pizza flavors or go crazy with something even more adventurous. My only caution is to limit the high-liquid-content fillings you use.
Pro-tips: 1) don’t stretch your dough too thin, 2) saute any vegetables first to coax out as much water as possible prior to baking, 3) put down a layer of cheese as your base layer, and 4) make sure your dough cuts stop ~1″ short of the filling so you have a solid swaddle.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, “pannolino” is Italian for “diaper.” I thought this was a more appropriate name for my stromboli-inspired weave, and you really can’t beat the alliteration. However, nobody will know what you’re talking about if you say you’re eating a pannolino — we’ll have to work together to make this name take off!
Potato, Ham, & Pesto Pannolino
1 lb. pizza dough – I used a garlic & herb dough, but a plain dough (homemade or storebought) would work just fine
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, cut in thin, 1/2″-long slices
10 oz. shredded mozzarella
8 oz. prepared pesto
3 small Yukon gold potatoes, thinly-sliced on a mandolin or grater
5 slices deli ham
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Grated parm & garlic powder, for sprinkling
One hour prior to assembly, remove pizza dough from refrigerator, and let sit at room temperature for improved handling.
Place a cookie sheet, covered in aluminum foil, on the bottom rack of your oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees farenheit. Spray a pizza pan (or cookie sheet, if you don’t have a pizza pan) with non-stick cooking spray. Heat the butter and oil in a medium skillet, over medium heat. Once butter has melted, saute the onion until browned and caramelized, then turn off burner.
Lightly dust the room-temp dough with whole wheat flour, and stretch the dough into a large rectangle, ~12″ x 18″. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese down the middle third of the rectangle (the long way), and top with an even layer of pesto. Use half of the potato slices to top the pesto in a single layer. Spread the caramelized onions over the potatoes. Sprinkle another 1/3 of the mozzarella over the onions. Top with the ham slices, then the remaining mozzarella.
The weave [see pictures, above]: Use kitchen scissors to cut 3/4″ strips down both sides of the rectangle. DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE FILLING! To prevent a smokey overflow in the oven, stop cuts ~1″ away from the filling. Gently pull strips up and over the filling, alternating sides, and overlapping edges, along the full length of the pannolino.
Brush top with beaten egg, and sprinkle with parm and garlic powder. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top, and crisp on bottom. CAREFULLY remove pan from oven. Let cool on pan for 10-15 minutes, prior to slicing. Serve with marinara dipping sauce, if desired.