Monday, November 05, 2012

Winter Squash Pizza (Pizza Zucca)

A couple months back, I sung the praises of the seasonal flatbread. So easy, so thrifty, so crowd-pleasing, so perfect for highlighting the season's harvest with just a wee bit of cheese to hold it all together. And now, the November installment in the series: the butternut squash pizza.

This is so surprisingly good, greater than the sum of its winter-squash-and-starch parts. A simple lean dough is topped with thinly-sliced squash (you soak it in salted water the night before, which renders it both softer and tastier), some onions and sage, and then just a sprinkling of cheese and breadcrumbs to tie it all together. The end result is deep and savory, with that bit of squashy sweetness, and rich and creamy with only a bit of dairy.

And in other news of the power of bread to unify, here's a recent spot I produced on Election Day Communion. If there's any bread that may have the power to pull us through electoral politics, I'm putting my faith in this one.

Winter Squash Pizza (Pizza Zucca)

reconstructed based upon the guidelines from Grandaisy Bakery, as told to Slice
makes one large pizza, serving ~6

1 pound squash (about half a standard butternut, or two small delicatas)
1 pound pizza dough (I'm currently obsessed with the recipe in Jim Lahey's book, which you all should get)
1/3 pound gruyere or similar cheese
1/2 red or yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
handful of sage leaves, coarsely chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

The day before: If your squash is large, cut it in half (you only need about a pound). Peel and scoop out the seeds, then slice very thin (about 1/8-inch thick). Fill a large bowl with water, and salt until it tastes quite salty, and add the squash slices. Let sit overnight.

When you're ready to make the pizza, take your dough out of the fridge if it's refrigerated, and let come to room temperature for an hour. Preheat your oven to 500° Farenheit, and place a rack near the top.

While the oven is heating and the dough is warming, prepare the filling. Drain the squash, then place in a large bowl and toss with the grated cheese, onion, and sage leaves. Drizzle in a few spoonfuls of olive oil, until it's well coated, and season with salt and pepper (you shouldn't need too much salt, since the squash will have taken in some salt from its soak, but you want to have enough to offset the squash's sweetness). Set aside.

Grease a half-sheet tray with olive oil, or line with parchment. Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured countertop, and gently stretch out into a long rectangle (I like to sort of drape it over the backs of my hands, to allow the weight to help stretch). If the dough resists, let sit for a few minutes to relax, and try again. When the dough is stretched out, transfer to the prepared tray, then push-pull it until it is evenly spread to the edges.

Sprinkle the squash filling evenly over the dough, right up to the edges. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake until the squash is baked and starting to brown, and any dough you can see appears cooked, ~20-30 minutes. Let cool slightly, slice into squares, and serve.


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