Butternut Squash, Wild Mushroom and Fontina Pizza
10 to 12 ounces butternut squash (half of a small to medium squash — see note below)
Salt and black pepper
1 or 2 garlic cloves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced rosemary
1/2 pound mixed wild mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 ball of pizza dough, rested (Pizza Dough recipe follows)
Semolina, fine cornmeal, or flour
4 to 5 ounces fontina cheese, coarsely grated
Halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and fiber from the cavity. Set aside any extra squash for another use (see note). Peel the remaining squash. Slice the squash cross-wise into 1/4-inch slices. Place the squash slices in a bowl and toss with just enough olive oil to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spread the slices on a baking sheet and roast in a 450-degree oven until tender and beginning to brown — about 20 minutes.
While the squash roasts, peel and mince the garlic. Stir the garlic, along with the pepper flakes and the rosemary, into 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Set aside.
Sauté the mushrooms: When sautéing mushrooms, do not over-crowd the pan. If necessary, sauté in batches. Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to coat the pan, then add the mushrooms. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, tender and any liquid that they have given off has evaporated. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
Build the pizza: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pizza pan or baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with semolina, fine cornmeal or flour. Using your fingers, push up the edges of the dough to make a slight rim. You may top the crust immediately, or let it rest (covered with a towel) for up to 15 minutes before you add the toppings. Spread a thin layer of the seasoned oil over the crust. Scatter with half of the cheese. Arrange the roasted squash in an even layer on top of the cheese. Scatter the mushrooms evenly over the squash. Top with the remaining cheese.
Place the pizza in its pan on a pre-heated pizza stone in a pre-heated 450- to 500-degree oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes. To ensure a crisp crust, slide the pizza off of the pan and onto the pizza stone for the final 2 to 3 minutes of cooking. When the pizza is done, transfer to a cutting board, cut into wedges and serve. Makes one 12-inch pizza.
Note: It is unlikely that you will find a butternut squash that only weighs 10 to 12 ounces. If you do, use the whole squash. For a larger squash, use only what you need, saving the remainder for another use (e.g. — roast with butter and honey and brown sugar for a side vegetable).
Pizza making tips: Anything that you put on the pizza should be able to cook in 15 minutes or less; or, should be pre-cooked to get it to that point. Any ingredient that produces a lot of liquid when it is cooked (zucchini, for example) should always be pre-cooked. Some wet ingredients — like tomatoes — should be drained of excess liquid first.
Have toppings ready and at room temperature before you roll out the crust.
Don’t pile on too much topping — too much and the crust will not cook in the center. Sauces should be spread thinly and if there is no “sauce” other than olive oil, you should be able to see bits of the crust through the various toppings.
Pre-heat the oven and pizza stone for at least one half hour and preferably an hour.
1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Combine the water, yeast, and 11/2 cups of the flour in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the oil, salt and another cup of the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough that holds its shape. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed lightly with a finger, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two pieces (for 12-inch pizzas) and roll into balls. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped and cooked or frozen.
Note: If you prefer a whole-wheat crust, instead of unbleached all-purpose flour, use 1 1/2 cup bread flour and 1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the new “white” whole wheat flour is a good choice).
Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
1 1/4 pounds Brussels sprouts
4 to 5 ounces bacon, cut cross-wise in ?-inch strips
1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (optional)
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts or toasted breadcrumbs (optional)
Trim the stems, and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium to medium-low heat. While the bacon is cooking, quarter the onion lengthwise and then thinly slice the quarters crosswise; set aside. When the bacon is nearly crisp, transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon. Return the pan with the bacon fat to the stove and increase the heat slightly (medium to medium high). Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are wilted and nicely caramelized, about 5 minutes. If using, add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sprouts to the pan along with the bacon. Stir to coat the sprouts with the bacon fat. Reduce the heat and add the stock or water and season lightly with salt. Cover and cook until the sprouts are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Check the sprouts occasionally as they cook; if they seem dry, add more stock or water.
When the Brussels sprouts are tender, taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve, drizzled with a bit of good quality extra-virgin olive oil. If desired, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs or walnuts. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.
— Recipes by Chef Paige Vandegrift, www.simple-food.com.