Back in my college days working at a pizza parlor, I learned how to whip up a pretty nice pizza pie. Housebound in 2020 (no explanation needed) and hankering for a tasty pie, working from home gave me a good excuse to dust off my KitchenAid and try my hand again at pizza dough. (And, when you have a stand mixer, there’s really no excuse.)
Rolling in Dough…
My Covid days of playing with dough began (you may know that story as well) and homemade pizzas became the experiment of choice, a very tasty choice. Everyone has their own style of rolling dough and making pies, and mine was beginning to take shape, literally.
When rolling out the dough, I tended to make a rectangular pizza, but it’s all personal preference. Nice stone bar pans around 13” x 9” are a really nice size for a pie (although is it a pie if it’s a rectangle?). For cheese, I love to use a nice sharp cheddar mixed with just a little bit of mozzarella. That might not be a typical cheese combination, but a sharp cheese imparts a really nice flavor to pizza. The mozzarella gives it that classic and creamy taste. If you’re not a fan of sharp cheese, using solely mozzarella also works.
When topping my homemade pizzas, I usually went with whatever happened to be in the refrigerator or cabinet, which was very economical. Spinach and mushrooms are staples in my house, so that was a pretty common choice. Any leftovers from a batch of red roasted peppers for salads would usually end up on my pizzas. However, during my weekly pandemic pizza nights, a new discovery was made—a new favorite and somewhat unconventional pizza topping—butternut squash. During the cold months, I often have a butternut or five stashed away. Whether homegrown or picked up at a fall CSA, butternut lasts. When most people think of butternut, their minds don’t typically go to pizza, but it’s really a delicious addition!
Roasting the butternut before putting it on pizza is absolutely essential. It takes on a nice sweet and caramelized flavor. When the pie comes out of the oven, a handful of arugula adds some really nice color and taste, and a drizzling of balsamic glaze brings it to another level. Though many love a greasy pepperoni or linguica topping, I encourage you to try butternut next time you make a homemade pizza!
Admittedly, since work in the office full-time has resumed, our weekly Friday night homemade pizzas have somewhat fallen off the menu. Pizza nights are much more likely to happen on Saturdays, when there is more time to let dough rise. There’s nothing like a homemade pizza, though! Don’t be scared of dough; it’s easier than you think, and a homemade pizza will always impress.
Butternut Squash Pizza
For the Dough
- 2½ cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 cups (9 ounces) whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1¾ cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small butternut (about 2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups arugula
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Stir in water and olive oil, forming a soft dough—adjust water as needed. Knead a minute or so on a lightly floured counter. Close up dough into an airtight tub and set aside to ferment for 45 minutes.
- While dough is resting, prepare the butternut. Peel squash and cut in half. Remove inner seeds. Cut squash into small cubes. Put in a bowl, toss with avocado oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until squash begins to brown.
- While squash is cooking, grate cheeses. When squash is finished, turn oven temperature up to 500 degrees.
- Once dough has risen, punch down and roll out onto a pizza stone or baking pan (I like to use a rectangle). Top with cheeses and roasted squash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until crust become golden brown.
- While pizza is cooking, heat balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until reduced to about half. Remove from heat (sauce will continue to thicken).
- When pizza comes out of oven, immediately top with arugula. Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top and serve.
Kendra Parker enjoys spending the cold winter months in front of a hot oven. When not cooking, you can find her curled up with a good book and a hot drink or hiking the local nature trails (if it isn’t too cold out!).