What’s not to love about Pizza Pinwheels. They are like pizza we all know and love, but in a form that allows them to be stacked on a plate and passed around the dinner table. In general, they are perfect as a snack, a small lunch, or as an appetizer, for movie night, or when playing board games with family - which seems to be a very popular activity for us these days.
In the months (and years) before life slowed down considerably, I made a habit of serving Pizza Pinwheels as an appetizer, part of the antipasti spread to our pasta dinners. Alongside the many other dishes and nibbles like different kinds of olives, artichoke hearts, insalata caprese etc. there were always those tasty-feel-good-rolls packed with the flavors and textures that we enjoy. I usually went with two different kinds – one with homemade pizzasauce, paper-thin prosciutto cotto, mozzarella and basil, the other with the same base recipe but with Italian salami instead. We also enjoy them alongside bowls of seasonal veggie soups, such as cream of carrot.
Another thing I like about these pizza pinwheels is that they can be baked right away. No need to wait for the rolls to rise as I made these particular pizza pinwheels with my favorite good-quality store-bought pizza dough I picked up while I was out running errands. You can make your own dough, of course, but store-bought dough means less need to plan ahead.
Here then comes the part where you can do as you please and cook as you want. Instead of the good quality store-bought pizza dough, use homemade instead. Sometimes if time and flour stocks permit, I experiment with different types of flour (such as spelt flour) for the pizza dough. And sometimes I like to use puff pastry instead, as do a lot of other homecooks and the pros. I tried a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi for Pizza Pinwheels with a puff pastry base and a topping of tomato sauce (grated tomato, tomato paste, oregano, garlic), grated mozzarella, parmesan, chorizo and parmesan, served with a fresh tomato sauce for dipping - see pictures below - very tasty too.
Back to today’s recipe. While in the past I stuck to the basic cheese-and-ham-and-salami combo with my rolls, you can, and should, swap in your favorite pizza toppings. You simply cannot go wrong here.
So last week I found myself starring at some sweet potatoes and fresh baby spinach that needed some attention. And I decided that they would make a formidable filling for some Veggie Pizza Pinwheels – if you want to make them vegan, make sure to use a vegan pizza dough (with just flour, yeast - most vegans eat yeast - water, salt and olive oil) and swap the regular mozzarella that is usually made with sheep's or cow's milk or a mix thereof for a vegan variety – I usually go with an almond or cashew based mozzarella which a widely available around here, it has a wonderful slightly nutty taste and melts nicely (of course, vegan mozzarella can also be made at home).
These Veggie Pizza Pinwheels are best eaten right after baking, while still piping hot and cheesy - not a tall order if you have a crowd of people waiting in the living room. If you have any leftovers, they make very good afternoon snacks, are perfect for lunch boxes (if and when they will be in use again) either eaten straight from the fridge or warmed up in the oven or microwave.
Veggie Pizza Pinwheels with Sweet Potato & Spinach l Pizzaschnecken mit Süßkartoffel & Spinat
(makes about 12 pinwheels)
- fresh pizza dough, 400g to 600g (14 to 16 ounces), store-bought or homemade and rolled out
- 1 to 1 ½ baked sweet potatoes (depending on their size), cooled, peeled and puréed to a smooth mash (add salt and pepper to taste)
- 600g baby spinach, washed carefully, dried but with some water still clinging to the leaves (no need to tear off the tender stems)
- 2 spring onions, washed, dried and thinly sliced (you can substitute 2 finely diced shallots)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and finely minced (can be omitted)
- olive oil (suitable for cooking)
- freshly ground black pepper and sea salt (to taste)
- 200g mozzarella cheese, grated (either regular OR vegan)
- In a medium saucepan, heat some olive oil and sauté the onions (medium heat), then the garlic (if using) and a few flakes of pepperoncini (hot Italian chili flakes), add salt and pepper, stir and sauté for a further minute or two. Then add the spinach, some more olive oil and stir until the spinach leaves have wilted (this will take a few minutes).
- Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a nonstick baking mat.
- Dust your work surface lightly with flour.
- Place the roll of pizza dough on top (or roll out your homemade pizza dough into a rectangle).
- Spread the sweet potato mixture evenly all over the dough, leaving 2.5cm (1in) of clean border at the top.
- Scatter the cooled spinach mixture atop the sweet potato mixture and spred it as evenly as possible (using an offset spatula).
- Sprinkle the grated mozzarella cheese over the spinach.
- Starting at the long end nearest you, begin rolling up the dough. When you get to the top, pinch the dough closed along the seam. Use a sharp chef's knife to slice the long tube into approx.12 rolls. Use the flat of your knife or a pastry scraper to help transfer the rolls to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the rolls a few centimeters/inches apart. Tighten up the rolls as needed after transferring and tuck any toppings that fell out back between the folds.
- Bake the pinwheels until the cheese is bubbly and the rolls are turning golden on top, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Cool the rolls for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a serving platter. Best served while still hot.
- Leftover rolls can be refrigerated in an airtight container and reheated either for a few minutes in a pre-heated oven or for about 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave.
Enjoy my Veggie Pizza Pinwheels with a small seasonal salad alongside - this time I went with more baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced persimmon (no need to peel) and pomegranate seeds (healthy) that I served with a clementime salad dressing (just add fresh clementime juice to some white wine or cider vinegar, mild olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and local runny honey). Or serve with a warming, seasonal soup such as a Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup. Or make them part of your antipasti/mezze spread. The possibilities are endless.