We came home from a winter recital at my four year old’s preschool one night this week, where she and her friends put on the most adorable performance and the Mister asked the dreaded question: “What’s for dinner?”
“Pizza.” I replied.
“Pizza.” He repeated, trying not to sound disappointed. I preheated the oven, pulled out out the pizza from the fridge, loaded with creamy, caramelized butternut squash and sweet red onions with dollops of goat cheese and fresh slices of mozzarella cheese. He eyed the pizza uncertainly and I smiled to myself and helped the kids get ready for bed, while waiting for the oven.
With the kids finally asleep, we sat down to eat.
“OHMYGOD! WHAT. IS. THIS?!” The Mister asked, as he crammed mouthfuls of the caramelized butternut squash and goat cheese pizza into his mouth. “You are a genious!”
Ahhh, what every woman wants to hear from her husband! But really, I’m not genious. I just love pizza; if I could, I would eat it for every meal for the rest of my life and be perfectly happy. I’m convinced you can pass it down through genetics because my children are also pizza freaks and may their children also be pizza freaks. But when I say pizza, you’re thinking a chewy, carb-loaded pie, with mountains of cheese and a tangy red sauce, which is usually what my kids have in mind.
Nope, but my pizza is 100% different. My pizza has a crispy yet chewy, ultra-thin, HOMEMADE white whole crust (recipe forthcoming) with a light brush of an olive oil and honey dressing, oven roasted and caramelized butternut squash and red onions, dotted with tangy, creamy goat cheese, and fresh mozzarella. Did I mention the cranberries? Oh, the DELICIOUS dried cranberries! Guys, I think I found my new favorite pizza. I’ll give credit where credit is due and I was inspired by this sweet and spicy butternut squash pizza recipe I came across the other day. Of course, I had to add my own twist to it, because that’s where the fun is! The best part is, I can eat it without doing major damage to all the effort I’ve been putting into eating healthy again.
I’m a big fan of oven roasting vegetables. It caramelizes the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables and softens them, without taking away from their texture. I also noticed that I don’t crave sweets after a meal if my meal has roasted veggies or a naturally sweeter component in the meal itself. And given my butternut squash kick lately, I’ve been stockpiling precut and cubed butternut squash and throwing them in the freezer for use during the year. While I love roasted a whole, fresh squash, sometimes it’s just more convenient to buy the pre-peeled and cut ones. And roasting doesn’t have to be a production. I do a little salt, pepper, a tiny bit of olive oil, sometimes thinly sliced slivers of garlic and a really hot oven, heated to 425 degrees F.
The dried cranberries and the wheat crust are a match made in heaven. The tart and sweet, plump cranberries provide the perfect contrast to the creaminess of the squash. Though the ingredient that really brings everything together in this pizza is the hint of crushed red pepper flakes. I know, I know, a lot of people don’t really eat spice but I’m not saying cover the entire thing in red pepper flakes. Just a little bit, sprinkled as a final touch before putting it in the oven provides an incredible, warm lingering taste, after the pizza has been consumed. It’ll subtle presence is not front and center but its absence will very much be felt.
While it’s a great pizza to have on pizza night, it works as an upscale date night in meal too. Or better yet, wow your guests and whip it for a dinner party. They will stare at you with awe as you walk in with this beauty; you will be the gourmand chef!
- Butternut squash and onion topping:
- 4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
- 12-inch whole wheat pizza crust, rolled out as thin as possible (I use white whole wheat)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 oz crumbled, mild goat cheese
- 2 oz sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- Roast butternut squash
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Toss butternut squash and onions with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and cinnamon. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, until onions are tender and squash is easily pierced with a fork.
- Assemble pizza
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place pizza crust on parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and honey. brush onto pizza crust evenly.
- Spoon the butternut squash and onion mixture onto the crust. dot with goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, spread cranberries evenly. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, until crust is cooked through and goat cheese is slightly melted.
- Let cool and cut into squares.
*Yields 4 three piece servings