Monday, March 28, 2011

squash and potato pizza (with an optional sprinkle of bacon)

Next time you have some squash (maybe from your winter CSA) sitting around malingering, and you don't have anything in mind to do with them and don't feel like eating it right away, you can roast them up and store them in the fridge or freezer, till you're ready to try this, a pizza where mashed squash replaces tomato sauce, and potatoes join the ranks of whatever cheese you have in the house. Any kind of winter squash will work - it was a butternut squash in this case, acorn squash would work too. You could probably use about 2 pounds worth on a large pizza, but you can make do with any amount you might happen to have around.

Amounts on everything are intentionally vague because really any amount of anything here can be made to work.

Squash and Potato Pizza

a batch of your favorite pizza dough (you could use that kind they sell in a bag at the store)
winter squash (1 big, or 2 small)
chopped garlic
chopped parsley
chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
par-cooked* whole small waxy potatoes, sliced thin
extra virgin olive oil
cheese of practically any variety you have on hand (a total of about 2-3 cups shredded will make a nice cheesy layer; cheddar is a great match for the potatoes, ricotta would be fun, and parmigiano would be great for crisping up on the very top)
scallions, sliced
bacon, crumbled (optional)**

Roast the squash in whatever way you prefer (I like a 400 degree oven for an hour, cutting the squash in half, removing the seeds and lightly oiling the cut side before roasting. Our friend Jeremy roasts acorn squash entirely whole until soft, just on a sheet pan, and cuts in and removes the seeds after they're all cooled down, which I suspect imparts an extra squashy flavor and moist texture); this squash-roasting can be done well ahead of time and refrigerated, just be sure to get your squash to room temp or warmer to put on the pizza. After removing the peel (skin?) of the squash, break it down into chunks and place in a bowl. Add garlic, parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper and some extra virgin olive oil, and mash around until it has a sort of paste-like consistency.
In another bowl, toss the sliced potatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

Grate or crumble your cheeses. As you can see, I was using this opportunity to use up the alarming hoards of bits of cheese in our cheese drawer.
We had bits of cheddar, taleggio, queso blanco, gruyere, parmigiano and romano. I used most of the cheese you see here, on this and one other pizza I'm not telling you about (it's not a secret or anything, it's just no big deal, tomato sauce, etc).

Roll or press out your dough onto the oiled pan of your choice - I've been using an 11x17 sheet pan for pizza lately. Oil it generously before fitting the dough in there or it'll stick when you bake it and you'll feel sad. If you have trouble with the dough shrinking back, leave the dough for 20 minutes to rest (if you can) and then it should be more cooperative.

Drizzle a little olive oil onto the dough and then spread on the squash in an even layer. Lay out the sliced potatoes over the whole surface, and sprinkle on your cheeses.
Let the pizza sit in a warm place, like on top of your preheating oven, to allow the dough to rise, about 20 minutes.

Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes, until the cheeses are all melted and the crust is nice and golden brown. When you get it out of the oven, sprinkle on the sliced scallions and the bacon, if you want it, and then let the pizza cool briefly before slicing it up and eating it.
This was delicious leftover. Actually I ate cold pieces of it for lunch the next few days and it was awesome.

*For quick par-cooking to speed up things like this (or for home fries) I like to wash potatoes and pop them whole into the microwave for 2-3 minutes until they give a little when pressed.

**What I actually had was some leftover bacon wrapped (pecan stuffed) dates from a party, which I chopped up and put on there. While bacon wrapped dates stuffed with pecans are over the top delicious on their own, the pizza would also have been great with regular chopped crispy bacon, or actually no bacon at all would really have also been good, and that way I could have shared it with my vegetarian friends.

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