Friday, October 29, 2010

A pizza fit for Fall

I like to think of pizza as a blank canvas. The possibilities are endless when it comes to sauce, cheese, toppings, etc. A while back I heard about a pizza made with butternut squash and blue cheese. I have no idea how I first found out about it (a google search revealed that the combo is pretty ubiquitous), but a rainy Sunday afternoon last week found me in the kitchen with some leftover pizza dough and blue cheese at my disposal, along with a squash sitting on the counter, so I immediately recalled that combination and got to work.

The end result of my experiment would have been perfect had my blue cheese not been oh-so-very-strong from sitting in my fridge for about a month. But even with the overpowering blue cheese flavor, this combo was still delicious. The saltiness of the cheese mingled perfectly with the sweet roasted squash, caramelized onions, and red bell peppers. Plus the combination of colorful ingredients made this pizza a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Eating it kind of eased my sorrow over the fact that grilled pizza season is over.

Autumn Pizza

I didn't list amounts for the ingredients in this recipe, since that is going to depend on how big your pizza is and how much of each topping you prefer.

One pizza crust (my basic dough recipe is posted here)
Butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
Olive oil
Kosher salt
One sweet yellow onion
Red bell pepper, thinly sliced
Mozzarella cheese
Blue cheese (or another dry, crumbly, salty cheese such as feta)

1) Toss squash with enough oil to thinly coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 for about 40 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
2) Saute onions in olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. salt and saute until onions are golden brown and reduced, about 20-30 min. (This process is called caramelizing and you can find more detailed instructions here).
3) Roll pizza dough out to desired thickness (I like mine pretty thin). Place on a baking sheet that is either sprayed with cooking spray or dusted with cornmeal and brush with olive oil.
4) Top with desired amount of squash, onions, bell peppers, and cheese (I would suggest maintaining about a 4:1 ratio of mozzarella to blue cheese. But that amount depends entirely on how strong your cheese is).
5) Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes (or according to crust recipe directions).

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