Pizza and Pasta are not only the perfect holders for almost anything, they quite easily hold the very same things. And they hold them in ways that kids love, or at least that make it easy to pick back out the things that kids don’t love. Add to this my newfound refrigerator pizza dough method and my newfound pre-roasting plan, and either are ready in 30-60 minutes with only about 10 of those minutes necessarily involving actual work. Ok, at some point you need to take the time to make the sauce, to roast and sauté the toppings, but it doesn’t have to be just before you eat! These combinations balance sweet and salty to perfection using what was last plentiful when there was plentiful to be had (maybe, you had a lot of it then and you roasted and froze it already, maybe you have some saved in a root cellar, maybe you got a winter share at your CSA, or maybe you can find at least some of this still at Sherman Market who keeps getting deliveries from local farms with root cellars and greenhouses): winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, arugula, and swiss chard.
So here’s the method:
1. When you have time, roast the squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and eggplant. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for 3-6 months.
Peel and cut into ½” slices or cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on a cookie pan. Roast at 350 until soft all the way through, about 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
2. When you have time, caramelize onions. Slice one or more onion in half and then into 1/8-1/4” slices. Heat 1-2 T olive oil. Sauté the onions on medium-high heat until they become translucent and just barely begin to brown. Turn the heat down to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become a sweet soft brown pile, at least 30 minutes and ideally more like an hour. Cool and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
3. When you have time, make pesto and tomato sauce. Refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for 3-6 months.
4. 1-38 hours before you want to eat, make your favorite pizza crust, but rather than letting it rise for 30-60 minutes on the counter, put it into the fridge where it will rise much more slowly for 6-38 hours. Remove the dough from the fridge 1 hour before you want to eat. Let it sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, then flatten on an oiled cookie pan and let rise for 30 minutes. Brush with olive oil, cover with toppings and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.
Boil your favorite kind of pasta until very al dente, drain not quite completely, retaining about ½ cup hot liquid. Return to pot, toss in desired combination of toppings and 1-2 T butter or olive oil and cook for 3-5 minutes or until everything is heated through. Serve with grated parmesan or romano cheese
Topping/add in combos. These are the same for pizza or for pasta. When it’s pizza, start with a layer of pesto or red sauce, followed by a layer of grated mozzarella, and then throw on the toppings. When it’s pasta, use cubes or cut slices into strips, and top with grated romano or parmesan cheese.
1. Roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms (slice thinly and sauté on medium heat with olive oil and salt for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally), and caramelized onions.
2. Roasted sweet potatoes and caramelized onions and then after cooking but while it’s still hot as can be sprinkle with arugula or thinly sliced swiss chard which will wilt to perfection.
3. Roasted carrots, roasted beets, and crumbled goat or feta cheese.
4. Roasted eggplant, roasted tomatoes, and caramelized onions
5. Roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions, and then after cooking but while it’s still hot as can be sprinkle with arugula or thinly sliced swiss chard which will wilt to perfection