Since you, like me, may still be feeling the effects of the Thanksgiving feast, I thought now would be a good time to share my version of this light, seasonal pizza. For our dinner, I served it with a simple spinach salad. But, if the recipe seems a bit fussy (there are a few steps involved) for a weeknight meal, you could serve it as an hors d'oeuvres at a holiday party. I'm sure it would be a hit—it has a nice balance of sweet and salty tastes and it is easy to eat out of hand. All of the pieces (dough, squash purée, onions) can be made ahead, so it is easy to assemble at the last minute. It doesn't have to be served hot right out of the oven, making it appropriate for setting out for people to nibble on. To serve as an hors d'oeuvres, simply cut it in narrow wedges to make small two or three bite portions. The same quantity of ingredients could be made into two small pizzas so that the smaller portions could be cut into short fat triangles instead of long thin triangles.
The original recipe did not include any goat cheese, but the pizza seemed a bit austere without it. After sampling this pizza I think that it would be amenable to endless substitutions and additions. Crumbled or diced cooked Italian sausage, caramelized apple slices or sautéed mushrooms would all be good compliments for the squash and onions. Thinly sliced fresh fennel, added to the onions and cooked down with them, would be good too. Once you begin to think of the squash purée as the sauce base, the possibilities for variations begin to multiply.
If for some reason you prefer that the squash not caramelize during the roasting process, either cover loosely with foil or oil the pan and roast the squash with the cut surfaces down. Allow the squash to cool uncovered and with cut surfaces up so that the squash can steam a bit as it cools. For most uses, this should be sufficient to rid the squash of any excess moisture. If however, the finished purée seems thin or watery, dry the purée further by spreading it in a shallow pan and baking at 300°, stirring occasionally, until the desired consistency is reached—it will darken a little and will no longer "bleed" water. I usually find it necessary to do this for pumpkins, which tend to be quite watery. A medium-sized pumpkin (2 1/3 to 2 1/2 lbs.) will produce a 10 to 12 oz., or about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, of purée. If preparing pumpkin for a sweet baked good—such as pie or a cake—don't season or oil it before baking it cut side down.
Winter Squash Pizza with
Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese
2 medium yellow onions (12 to 16 oz.), halved & thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 t. each minced sage and rosemary
3/4 c. coarsely mashed winter squash (I prefer Carnival Squash, but Acorn, Butternut or any favorite variety would be fine)
nutmeg, salt & pepper, to taste
Pizza dough (see below)
1 1/2 T. untoasted pine nuts
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
3/4 oz. finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino
Cool briefly before using.
While the onions cook, season the squash to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
Roll the rested dough out into a 12- to 14-inch round and transfer to a baking sheet or pizza pan that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal. Brush the dough with a little olive oil. Spread the squash purée over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread the onions over the squash and scatter the pine nuts and then the goat cheese evenly over the onions and squash. Scatter the Parmesan evenly over all.
1/2 cup warm water (100º-110º)
1 1/8 t. active dry yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast. Let soften for a minute or two. Add 3/4 cup of the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the oil, salt and another half 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. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a ball. 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.
Variation for a Whole Wheat Crust: Instead of unbleached all-purpose flour, use 3/4 c. bread flour and 1/2 to 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (the new “white” whole wheat flour is a good choice).
(Recipe adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins)