Pizza night is a once a month affair around here and while my boys always stick to some version of your basic pepperoni and sausage, I always try to push the envelope and come up with a new flavor combination that I haven’t seen before. This weekend I went for a butternut squash base and I’ll have a hard time returning to my tomato sauce from here on out. I roasted the squash with some red onion and shallots and then pureed it with a little bit of milk, it makes for the creamiest most decadent tasting pizza base you could ever dream up. I topped it off with some smoked cheddar, a little broccolini and some chopped hazelnuts. I do encourage you to invest in a pizza stone if you don’t have one and place it directly on the floor of your oven. Most conventional ovens have a hard time getting hot enough to get the crust nice and crispy. I liked this so much that I made another pizza today and I think I’ll toss the leftover sauce with a little pasta tomorrow for dinner. What’s your favorite pizza combination?
Be sure to check out the bottom of the post for a little music to enjoy with your pizza!
- for the pizza dough
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup ice-cold water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5¼ to 5½ cups bread flour
- For the sauce and pizza:
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 1½ pounds)
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups smoked cheddar or your favorite cheese, shredded
- 1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
- ½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
- For the dough:
- In a small bowl, stir yeast into warm water, add the honey and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast starts to bubble and foam.
- Ina another bowl, mix cold water and salt until dissolved; stir in oil.
- In a heavy-duty standing mixer with a dough hook, place 5¼ cups flour in a large bowl. Stir the yeast mixture again to blend, then add to flour along with cold-water mixture. Beat with the dough hook on low speed until mixture is smooth and not sticky, 10-12 minutes. If dough remains sticky, add 2 more tablespoons flour and beat 2 minutes longer; if still sticky, add another 1 to 2 tablespoons flour and beat until nonsticky and smooth.
- Scrape dough onto a lightly floured board; cut in half. With floured hands, pick up one portion of dough; pull opposite edges together toward center and pinch to seal. Repeat all around circumference to form a smooth, tight ball. Place each portion in a 1-gallon plastic bag. Squeeze out air and seal bag, allowing enough room for ball to double. Chill at least 10 hours or up to 3 days.
- hours before you want make the pizza, remove the dough from the fridge and let come to room temperature. (I usually take mine out in the morning and just leave it to rise on the counter until I’m ready to use it.
- Make the sauce:
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, trim the ends of the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Peel with a vegetable peeler. With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard. On a baking sheet toss the butternut squash and onion with the olive oil, chili flakes and salt. Roast until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally.
- Transfer squash to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add apple cider vinegar, and milk and process until smooth adding a little more milk if needed to thin as necessary. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- In a small bowl, toss the broccolini with a teaspoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the pizza:
- When you’re ready to bake the pizza, heat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Roll or stretch out the dough to a 12-inch round. If you are having trouble stretching your dough, roll it out, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and then try it again. Allowing it to rest relaxes the glutton in the dough and makes it easier to roll out. I like to roll out my dough on parchment paper so it’s easy to transfer it to the oven. You can also sprinkle a baking sheet or pizza peel with cornmeal to avoid sticking.
- Spread a thin layer of the butternut squash sauce on top of the dough. Sprinkle ¼ of the cheese over the top of the pizza. Top with the broccolini and sprinkle with the hazelnuts. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly
What better to go with pizza than a cold beer and a little country music? I’ve been really enjoying the new HBO series True Detective and love the opening song by the Handsome Family. It ‘s a haunting song that evokes the darker side of life.
This song by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac is from the Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis is a lovely version of a folk classic.
Murder by Death is a new band for me and I love the combination of the cello for their slightly gothic take on country music. Adam Turla’s vocals bring to mind a modern Johnny Cash.