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Putting Your Pizza Stone to Work: Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pizza

Crackly crust, sweet butternut squash, sage, and caramelized onions -- the flavors of fall in pizza form.
Crackly crust, sweet butternut squash, sage, and caramelized onions -- the flavors of fall in pizza form.


Yesterday, we talked about pizza stones and how you can improve upon those store-bought ones with cheap unglazed quarry tiles purchased at Home Depot. Today, let's put those tiles to the test with a delicious Fall-oriented pizza made with butternut squash instead of tomato sauce. 


I made this pizza over the weekend at home, and let me say it was a transcendent experience. The ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, squash, and goat cheese all celebrate warm, Fall flavors. And the whole wheat crust is dense, rich, and crackly thanks to the high heat of the stone. Sure, it takes a bit of work, but once you get the technique down, making a quality pie at home is easy. You can also prep all the ingredients ahead of time, and assemble the next day.
Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pizza

Ingredients - yields 3 pizzas
1 medium-sized butternut squash
3 whole yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of sage
1 jar of quality sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1/4 cup of dry white wine
3 TBS brown sugar
1 tube of fresh, soft goat cheese
2 TBS butter
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella (ovoline mozz from Whole Foods is cheap and flavorful)
1/8 cup of pine nuts
2 cups of whole wheat flour, or 1 cup of WW and 1 cup of "00" flour
3/4 cup water
1 package of dry, activated yeast
1 TBS sugar
Coarse-ground corn meal
plenty of extra virgin olive oil 
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

I'll break each part into sections to make it easy to assemble. First, the dough:

Make sure to work your dough thoroughly so it's nice and elastic.
Make sure to work your dough thoroughly so it's nice and elastic.

1.

Sift your flour into a large, sturdy bowl. Here, you have an option:

Pure WW flour makes a very rich and hearty crust, but it's also firmer

and will rise less. Mix WW flour with 1 cup of "00" flour, and you'll

have a lighter result. Add a TBS of salt.


2.

In a drinking cup, mix 3/4 cup warm water with your dry yeast, plus 1

TBS of sugar. Stir well, and allow the yeast to proof for 10 minutes.

It should foam up and about double in size.


3.

When the yeast is ready, make a well in the center of the flour with

your hands and pour in the liquid, along with 2 TBS of EVOO. Mix

thoroughly until well incorporated, then knead the dough until smooth

and elastic for at least 10 minutes. This is the hardest part! Really

work it well, and you'll have beautiful, elastic dough.*


4.

Form the dough into a ball and rub it down with a little splash of

EVOO. Then place it in the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave

in a warm place for at least an hour. By then, the dough should have

roughly doubled in size. 


5. Punch the dough

down, then cut into three equal sized chunks. Form those into balls,

rub with a little EVOO, and repeat step 4. Once the dough has proofed

like this, it's ready to use. You an refrigerate or freeze for later use, too.

*Note: Your dough may require more or less water to achieve the right texture and consistency. You don't want sticky, but it has to be malleable and not too dry. 


Meanwhile, make your butternut squash:

Roasting the squash enhances the natural sugars and brings out lots of great flavor.
Roasting the squash enhances the natural sugars and brings out lots of great flavor.

1. Peel and seed your butternut squash. Cut the flesh into one-inch chunks and place in a baking sheet or oven-proof dish.


2.

Take a handful of sage and cut into thin strips (julienne). Scatter

this over the squash along with your garlic and a healthy dose of EVOO

to coat. Also add brown sugar. Season with salt and pepper, and mix

well.


3. Bake the squash at 400 degrees for around 35-40 minutes, or until the edges brown and the squash becomes fork tender.

4.

Remove from the oven and roughly mash with a fork, leaving a few larger

chunks intact for texture. Mmmm. Smell that? That's going to taste

great on the pizza.


Putting Your Pizza Stone to Work: Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pizza


 


Next comes your onions:

These onions are about halfway done. You want a deep, nutty brown color.
These onions are about halfway done. You want a deep, nutty brown color.



1.

Heat a sautee pan or skillet on medium heat and add your butter. Once

it's melted, pour in your 3 sliced onions and stir to coat.

2.

Season with salt and pepper, and cook onions over medium heat until

they become caramelized. This takes time; maybe 30 minutes. Resist the

urge to turn the heat up -- you don't want to burn the onions, just get

them to that pleasant place just slightly south of there. They'll turn

sweet and savory.

3. Just before the onions are finished, deglaze the pan with white wine. When done, remove from pan and set aside.

Now, the pizza is ready to make!

Make sue you've got a clean workspace and plenty of flour to roll your dough.
Make sue you've got a clean workspace and plenty of flour to roll your dough.

1.

Clear a nice workspace on your countertop, clean it well, then sprinkle

some flour over it. Roll out your dough to a a large circle, as thick

or thin as you want it. I like it really thin!

2.

Take your pizza peel and sprinkle it with some coarse-ground corn meal.

If you don't have this, flour will work OK. But I've had many a pizza

stick to my peel without corn meal, so I suggest you do that. Not being

able to get your pizza off the paddle is a nightmare! Especially if the

crust is thin (it rips as you try to remove it). Plus, cornmeal tastes really good, IMO.

3.

Decorate! Take some EVOO and drizzle it over the dough, then spread

with a kitchen brush. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the dough, paying

special attention to the edges.

4. Spread a

third of your squash mixture over the dough, leaving some room along

the lip to form a crust. Some chunks of squash mixed in there is a nice

textural contrast.

5. Next, onions. Spread a generous layer over the squash -- this will add a great savory-sweetness to the pie!

I actually went a little light on the toppings here. It's a careful balance -- too little, and your pie will be plain. Too much, and the middle will sag and go soggy.
I actually went a little light on the toppings here. It's a careful balance -- too little, and your pie will be plain. Too much, and the middle will sag and go soggy.

6.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Use plenty of sun dried tomatoes for a

acidic kick; pine nuts add crunch and texture. Intersperse the goat

cheese and mozzarella around the pizza so they melt into bubbly pools.

Finally, sprinkle some more chopped sage and drizzle some EVOO over the

top, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

7. Make sure the oven is preheated to 500 degrees with your pizza stone inside, using the proper method detailed yesterday! Place your pizza on the stones and cook for 7 minutes. That's all it takes!

8. Remove from the oven, slice with a pizza cutter, and serve immediately!

It

sounds like a lot of work, but once you get the technique down it's

easy. And you can use this method to make any sort of pie you want. Be

creative! Making pizza is fun to do with guests, especially if you let

them help assemble.

As far as serving

suggestions go: Why not try a nice bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé, which

pairs great with goat cheese and the other fall flavors. On the side, a

salad of arugula dressed with lemon and sprinkled with shaved

Romano cheese works well too. Whatever you pair it with, enjoy!

Putting Your Pizza Stone to Work: Whole Wheat Butternut Squash Pizza



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