Oca is a very tasty and useful vegetable tuber. It grows well for me in North Wales. It’s good ground cover and polycrops well with taller partners such as tomatoes. Fresh picked and raw, many varieties have a lemony (oxalic acid) taste which goes after exposure to the sun. The cooked taste is sweet. The texture ranges from that of a slightly less crunchy water chestnut to a soft puree which depends on the variety and how much you’ve cooked them.
Cooked they can be steamed, boiled, roasted, fried or sauteed. They can be used in sweet or savoury dishes and preserved or frozen.
When we first started to grow them in 2011, I tried to find traditional recipes for them, without much success. Lost Crops of the Incas says that: “In Mexico, oca is commonly sprinkled with salt, lemon, and hot pepper, and eaten raw.” The other recipes for them I could find were for roasted oca, or oca used in meat stews.
Here I give you oca used as a pizza topping. I think this is a first on the internet, although I’m very happy to be proved wrong.
This is delicious! The oca are sweet and they have a little bite still. I think the oca look like jewels: the colour variation with fresh coriander garnish certainly makes a visually striking pizza.
Oca Pizza Recipe
This makes one pizza of about 23cm (9 inches) circumference.
Pizza is best cooked in an oven as hot as you can get it, with the oven shelf in the top half. So preheat your oven to at least 230°C, higher if you can. I cook my pizzas on baking paper on a granite baking stone. If you’re not lucky enough to have a baking stone or a pizza stone, make the pizza up on oiled greaseproof paper or tinfoil and then place on a pre-heated oven tray to cook. This will give you a nice crisp bottom.
This pizza is great at room temperature too.
For the topping
350g of oca, cleaned and any damage cut away
Some pesto (any of basil, wild garlic, rocket will do) or parsley persillade or similar (there are recipes in The Permaculture Kitchen for these)
1-2tsp ground coriander (best if freshly done with coriander seed)
1/3-1/2 nutmeg, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olilve oil
Fresh coriander to garnish
For the pizza
This quantity of dough makes enough for two 23cm (9 inch) pizzas. It’s not really worth doing any less. So make a second pizza with another topping, or cover and pop in the fridge to make a pizza or garlic bread the next day.
500g of strong white bread flour (or Typo ’00 flour)
5g (1tsp) fast action yeast
5g (tsp) finely ground sea salt
30g (1tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
350g warm water (it’s best to weigh for accuracy)
Make the pizza dough first.
Pop all the ingredients together in a bowl. You can use your hands, a food processor, or a stand mixer with dough hook. Mix the ingredients together until all the flour is wet and the ingredients are well incorporated. The dough will be sticky, don’t worry. The wetter dough helps you get a thinner base. Cover and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes.
Then do a quick knead of the dough like this. Bring the top (North) of the dough to the middle. Then do the same with East, South and West parts. Then do North-East, South-East, South-West and North-West. I call this a ‘Compass Knead’. Cover again and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes.
Then do another Compass Knead and leave, covered in a warm place for 10 minutes. Do one final Compass Knead and leave in a warm place for 30-50 minutes until the dough has risen by 50-100%.
The dough is now ready to use. You can keep it in the fridge, covered until you need to use it.
While the dough is proving you can prepare the oca.
Steam the oca for 5 minutes and allow to cool. If you don’t have a steamer improvise with a sieve or colander over a saucepan, or just put 5mm of boiling water into a pan and pop the oca in there, cook covered and then drain & cool. The vibrance of the colours fades a little, so don’t worry.
Cut the oca lengthways in half.
Now assemble the pizza (your oven is preheated isn’t it? And if you need a heated oven tray, you’ve got that in too?).
Get your oiled greaseproof paper or tinfoil ready. You may find that it’s easier to handle the dough if you oil your hands.
Divide the dough in two. Make one of the parts of the dough into a rough flat disc with your hands and pop the other in the fridge, covered.
Place the dough disc in the middle of your paper or tinfoil and then gently press and the dough into the shape you want. Coax it, you want to gently stretch it into shape and size, not tear it. You can make a little border round the edge to keep everything in place.
Then take your pesto or similar (I used wild garlic pesto) and spread it thinly over the pizza base, but not the edges.
Arrange your oca halves prettily over the base with the cut side down. Press the oca in slightly to fix.
Tear the mozzarella into small walnut sized pieces and arrange these between the oca, overlapping them slightly.
Sprinkle the ground coriander and grate the nutmeg over the oca and mozzarella. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Drizzle a little extra virgin oilve oil over the pizza.
Pop the pizza onto your hot oven tray or baking stone and bake until the dough is brown and crisp and the mozzarella is nicely melted and has some colour.
Sprinkle over some fresh coriander leaves to garnish and lift the flavours and tuck in.
Simple and delicious, I hope you enjoy it.
There are recipes for delicious pizzas and much more in The Permaculture Kitchen.
Carl is launching his new book, The Permaculture Kitchen at the Edible Garden Show today, so if you’re going then make sure to seek him! If, like me, you can’t make it to the show this year then you can buy a signed copy direct from Carl, and there are details on his website.
Lost Crops of the Incas: Little-Known Plants of the Andes with Promise for Worldwide Cultivation
Ad Hoc Panel of the Advisory Committee on Technology Innovation, Board on Science and Technology for
International Development, National Research Council
ISBN: 0-309-54691-5, 428 pages, 6 x 9, (1989)