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

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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.
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.
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.


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