Winter Pizza w/ Sliced Purple Potatoes and Butternut Squash
Although it ripens in the summer, butternut squash is known as a winter squash since it keeps well into the winter. Some pizza recipes call for cooking it and potatoes before assembling a pizza--which you can do! You can also just slice them really thin, instead. This is my preferred method. If the squash is young enough, it also isn't necessary to peel it. I love the vibrant contrast of the orange squash and purple potatoes. It's a nice splash of color to brighten these grayer months.
I make my own sourdough crust, as well as my own pizza sauce. You can use whatever dough and sauce you most prefer--packaged, pre-prepared, or homemade. The highlight here is really on the toppings. However, if you'd like my sauce recipe, here it is below.
The Tomato Pizza Sauce
I start the sauce first by adding a dash of olive oil to a saucepan, then sautéing a few cloves of chopped garlic in it just until it turns translucent. I add to this 6 large chopped Romas (when making 2 roughly 12-14" pizzas). I don't find peeling the tomatoes necessary if they are finely enough chopped--or de-seeding them either, for that matter. I might add a splash of whatever tomato sauce is open in the fridge to thicken it a little, but it isn't necessary. I then add dried herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme to taste, along with salt, pepper and some crushed red pepper. This all can boil for a while at medium heat, with some stirring every so often. Once it begins to thicken and needs more frequent stirring, I turn it down to low and let it cook (while giving it an occasional stir) until there is very little moisture left. The more sauce I make, the longer it takes to cook down. Also, if using fresh herbs, add them toward the end of the cooking time--the last ten minutes or so. You can also place fresh herbs such a basil in a layer between the sauce and cheese for more pronounced flavor. Let the saucecook while you prepare the pizza toppings.
I add a good-sized mound of thick cornmeal to the pizza peel/paddle before I pound out the dough. I make sure to keep sliding the dough around on the cornmeal to make sure it isn't sticking. (You can't have too much cornmeal. Cleaning its charred remains off your pizza stone is far preferable to having the crust stuck on the peel.) Letting the dough sit for five minutes or so before applying the sauce will ensure a slightly puffier crust. I apply the sauce evenly, taking care to leave the edges bare where I want the crust to form.
I slice my mozzarella simply because I dislike cleaning a grater. Over the cheese goes the slices of potato and squash. I added the collard greens because we'd been given some by a neighbor and I wanted some greenery. Any other thick, leafy winter green could work as well.
The parmesan and sage is them sprinkled over the top before I slide the pizza onto a stone in the oven preheated to at least 425° F. I let the pizza cook 8-12 minutes, depending on the size (closer to 8 min. for a personal pizza; closer to 12 min. for a 12-13"). The pizza is done when the cheese around the edges starts to brown.
Pro Tip: I'll do another post devoted to sourdough, but overall, the hotter the oven the better for a nice, crisp sourdough crust. Late spring through early fall, we move the stones out onto the grill and use the barbecue heated to a more ideal 500° F. Inside, fallen toppings and whatnot char in the oven at that temperature and smoke.
Red Sauce Ingredients:
-6 large Roma tomatoes (for two 12" pizzas) or 8-10 smaller ones. Canned tomatoes work too (14 oz. can)!
-Tbsp. olive oil
-3-4 cloves chopped garlic (or to taste)
-oregano, basil and thyme (dried or fresh)
-crushed red pepper
The crust! Use a crust of your choice--prepared dough from TJ's or another grocery store; a packaged or frozen crust; even a loaf of french bread cut in half. I will do a post on my sourdough recipe, techniques and fixes soon!
Toppings (rough estimates of amounts):
-1/2 c. red sauce
-4 oz. mozzarella cheese
-1 purple potato
-1/4 small butternut squash
-a couple collard green leaves (optional)
-a couple pinches of grated parmesan
-a few sage leaves painted with olive oil and toasted
Other Toppings to Try:
-caramelized onions (I didn't want them covering the vibrant colors, but I missed the flavor)
-goat cheese in place of mozzarella or sprinkled over the top
-bacon or proscuitto