roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion, pepitas and arugula pizza
I bet you’ve been wondering what I did with the extra butternut squash puree from the gnocchi I made a week and a half ago. And if you weren’t wondering, then you didn’t notice that the pictures clearly contained way more than one pound of cubed squash. In fact, I roasted not one but two whole pounds of the orange winter veggie, as I have at least five other uses for leftover roasted butternut squash, including lasagna. And, thanks to some inspiration I derived from a lunch with Bill at Google’s infamously foodie friendly cafeteria almost a year ago, pizza has become one of those uses.
Yes, I could have made my own dough and incorporated the squash into it, but that’s a little too close to a gnocchi remix for me. Instead, I froze the roasted butternut squash puree for a week, then defrosted it, drained excess liquid, and used it as a pizza sauce.
Spread over the rolled-out dough, the puree itself tastes so rich and luscious that the pizza doesn’t need any crazy or heavy toppings. Simple caramelized onions laid atop the puree give the pizza a buttery taste and a bit more texture, while Parmesan adds a nice punch of nutty saltiness. After baking, roasted pepitas sprinkled over the top add a delicate fall flavor and delightful crunch, while arugula brings some freshness and a spicy, peppery taste that provides a nice contrast to the general sweetness of the squash and onions.
Butternut Squash Puree
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. salt
pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 c. water, as needed
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with oil, sage, salt and pepper, and then transfer to baking sheet. Cover with foil. Roast in oven until squash is soft, about 30 minutes. Puree squash in a bowl using immersion blender (or in a blender or food processor), adding water if needed to achieve smooth consistency. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Will keep for up to 5 days stored in airtight, refrigerated container, or up to 3 months stored in airtight container in freezer. Be sure to drain any excess water before using, and re-taste to ensure proper seasoning, seeing as this will be the main sauce and flavor of the pizza recipe below.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, Pepitas and Arugula Pizza
To make this vegan, use vegan pizza dough (check the ingredients on the pre-made stuff, or make your own) and saute onions in olive oil, not butter.
1 package Whole Foods’ fresh pizza dough
1/4 c. cornmeal
1 c. red onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
salt, pepper, and sage to taste
1 c. Butternut Squash Puree, recipe above
1 c. Parmesan, finely grated
1 c. arugula
1/4 c. roasted pepitas (the insider kernel of a pumpkin seed)
(If possible, let the dough rise for a few hours at room temperature, then return it to the fridge. Remove it from fridge about 30 minutes before baking so that the dough returns to room temperature. While this can yield better results, I frequently pull the dough straight out of the fridge and form it by hand while still cold; to each her own.)
Crank oven up to 550F. Lightly sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal. Shape dough by either rolling it out (will need a little flour) or lifting the dough up and stretching/rotating it until it fits a large baking pan. For a crispier crust, pre-cook the dough for 3 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.
Over medium heat, melt butter in a skillet, and saute red onion slices until caramelized, adding pepper, salt and sage to taste. Set aside.
Spread enough butternut squash puree over dough to cover it about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thick (this may be more or less than 1 c., depending on how large you stretched out your dough). Scatter caramelized onions on top of the puree, then sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until crust is golden. Remove pizza, and let cool for a couple minutes. Top with pepitas and arugula, slice, and serve!