Roasted Squash, Apple, Spinach, Caramelized Onion Pizza

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who knows me or who reads my blog knows I love pizza. And the thing I love most about pizza is cheese. Sure, my pizza recipes are chock full o’ veggies, my crust is always whole grain (or whole vegetable in the case of cauliflower crust pizza), and overall, healthier than your typical pizzeria grease bomb, but cheese is consistently front and center. Until now.

The basis for this recipe popped up in Friday’s New York Times Cooking email and being it was from one of my favorite vegan chefs, Chloe Coscarelli, it caught my attention. What sealed the deal was everything this pizza called for was already in the fridge or pantry and there would be no need for a stop at the store to make it our Friday-night-after-work-dinner, prepared while enjoying a beginning-of-the-weekend glass of wine. I’ll stop with the hyphenated phrases now.

This pizza has no cheese, but I guarantee, you won’t miss it. The saucy white bean puree provides a tang and richness making cheese unnecessary. Yes, I said that. This cheese-is-the-best-thing-about-pizza person said that (okay, NOW, I’ll stop with the hyphenated phrases).

Experience has taught me to always read comments included after an online recipe and in this case, it brought a suggestion taking the flavors over the top. The idea of drizzling with a balsamic reduction when the pizza comes out of the oven is spot on and that made me think an additional drizzle of good quality olive oil (the kind you reserve for drizzles or dipping, not cooking) would be a great addition as well.

Most of this recipe can be made in advance, so you can eat at a reasonable weeknight time if you plan ahead. The white bean purée can be made up to a couple days in advance, the squash can be roasted the day before, and if you’re doing a homemade pizza crust, your dough will benefit from an overnight slow rise in the fridge. Even the balsamic reduction can be made ahead of time as well, and refrigerated until needed. The result is a hearty, filling, pizza-craving-satisfied meal, and you won’t miss the cheese! Enjoy!
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Roasted Squash, Apple, Spinach, Caramelized Onion Pizza

  • Servings: One 12-inch pizza
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Based on this NYT Cooking Chloe Coscarelli recipe

Garlic White Bean Purée:
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 large or two small cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Pizza:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1 apple, diced

Dough:
Pizza dough, preferably whole wheat (store-bought is fine, or make your own)

Drizzles:
Balsamic reduction (in a small saucepan, bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue simmering until reduced to 1/3 cup. Unused portion can be refrigerated for another use.)
Good tasting olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make the Garlic White Bean Purée by blending the beans, oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor. Add water, as needed, until a smooth consistency forms. Set aside. Can be made up to two days in advance.

Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes until squash is fork-tender, turning once with a spatula. Remove from oven and set aside.

Turn oven heat up to 450 degrees F. Place pizza stone in oven, if using.

While squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onions until soft and lightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Stretch or roll homemade or store-bought pizza dough into a 12-inch circle. Spread a layer of the garlic white bean purée evenly over the dough. (You will only use about half of the purée—use the rest as a dip for veggies or pita chips.) On top of the dough, arrange the spinach, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash and diced apple. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake on pizza stone or pizza pan at 450 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time, until the crust is golden. Remove from oven and drizzle pizza with balsamic reduction and good quality olive oil. Slice and serve. Makes one 12-inch pizza.

 

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Quinoa Crust Pizza

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A few weeks ago one of my healthy-food-loving friends tagged me in a link on Facebook to a Cooking Light video for quinoa pizza crust and asked what I thought of it. I’ve done the labor-intensive cauliflower crust pizza with good results, but had never considered quinoa an option.

Intrigued, I opened the link and had to try it. The original recipe uses a 9” round pan and looked to produce a crust thicker than my preference, so the first time I followed the recipe, but used a 10” cast iron skillet. It wasn’t thin enough, so next time, I upped the amount of quinoa to a cup and did the round free-form on parchment over a pizza stone, resulting in a bigger and thinner crust that gets perfectly crisp. You could do it the same way on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

The outcome is a nicely-thin 11-12 inch pizza, just right as a full meal for two or a lighter meal for three. You’ll have to plan ahead a bit because the quinoa needs a good eight hours or more soaking time (I start the soaking in the morning before leaving for work), but once that’s done, the recipe is quick and incredibly easy. Sometimes I add flavor-enhancers like nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and/or dried oregano before whirring the batter up in the food processor, but it’s good without as well.

Having recently come across and made some recipes for vegan, nut-based cheeses, a few vegan quinoa crust pizzas have come out of my kitchen and that’s the kind of frequent pizza eating I can get behind. Regardless of whether you use conventional toppings, go gourmet, or do a vegan pie, you’ll like this recipe and it just happens to be gluten-free.

It’s not going to 100% replace the authentic yeast-risen, flour laden, carb bombs I so love, but this protein and fiber filled version has us eating homemade pizza more often and more pizza is always a good thing! Enjoy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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A quick mention on the quinoa—any color works. I first made a white quinoa crust, after that used red quinoa and then got all excited when I saw multi-colored quinoa at Trader Joe’s cuz I knew it would make a pretty crust.

Quinoa Crust Pizza

Adapted from Cooking Light

1 cup uncooked quinoa (any color)

1/3 cup water

1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but gives a bit of a cheesy taste)

½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

Place quinoa in a bowl and add enough water to cover it. Cover bowl with a tea towel or paper towel and let soak at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray paper with cooking spray.

Drain quinoa and rinse thoroughly (rinsing removes any bitter taste from the quinoa).

In the bowl of a food processor place quinoa, 1/3 cup water, baking powder, salt, and if using, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and oregano.

Run the food processor for several minutes (2-3), stopping to scrape the sides down a few times, until you have a smooth batter.

Pour batter onto parchment and, using a spatula, form the batter into an 11-12 inch round. Bake for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven and invert the crust onto baking sheet and peel off parchment. Return to oven for about 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and add toppings of your choice (you may want to turn the original top side of the crust up, it will be prettier). Return to oven for 5-7 minutes until desired level of doneness/crispness. You can turn your oven to broil the last minute or two, but watch it carefully if you do.

Remove from oven and cut into wedges. Serves 2-3.

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

I have a new favorite pizza! Again.

Earlier this summer I discovered how great rainbow chard or beet greens and mushrooms taste when roasted and served together. With the beets in our garden finally ready, I had a huge bag ‘o beet greens to make into something delicious.

How about a pesto? Could it be that beet green pesto is really a thing? It is. And it’s really good. Skeptical at first about the chosen recipe because it was different from most pesto recipes I’ve done in the past—it didn’t include lemon juice, it called for raw rather than toasted nuts, and it had less than half the olive oil. Once made though, it had amazing flavor and I thought it’d be great on pizza. Of course I would include mushrooms for that great combo of greens and mushrooms, and why not include the beets too?

After roasting two portabella mushroom caps and a couple larger beets, I spread the beet green pesto over a homemade whole wheat pizza crust, topped it with sliced roasted beets and portabellas, and after pondering the best cheese to enhance this combo, I opted for a bit of shredded pepper jack. Not too much—just enough to add a creamy spiciness to go with the other robust flavors.

Veggies ready for roasting

Veggies ready for roasting

Prepared for this uncharted pizza territory to be a total bust, I, along with my dinner guest and fellow foodie, Dawn, were surprised to fall in love with this new pie. The earthiness of the pesto and mushrooms, sweetness of the beets and the piquant heat of the pepper jack came together in pizza perfection. Enjoy!

Oh, and by the way, the pizza dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas. You can refrigerate half the dough for a day or two, freeze it for a couple months, or just make two pizzas. My second one was a roasted cherry tomato and onion pizza that just had a brush of good quality olive oil as a sauce. It was great!

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Tomato & Onion Pizza

Roasted Beet & Portabella Mushroom Pizza with Beet Greens Pesto

This recipe sounds very time-consuming, but you can make everything ahead of time and then do the final pizza assembling and baking shortly before you’re ready to serve it.

Beet Green Pesto (from Oh My Veggies blog):
About 4 cups washed and dried beet greens, stems and thicker middle ribs removed

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place the beet greens, garlic, walnuts, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running slowly, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to process until smooth, adding more oil if necessary to achieve a saucy consistency (I didn’t need any additional oil). Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 days before using.

Pizza dough:
1 ¼ cups warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees F.)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

1 tablespoon honey

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups unbleached white flour, plus additional flour for kneading and rolling

2 teaspoons sea salt

Place warm water in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in yeast and whisk in honey. Let stand until foamy, 5-10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix flours and salt. Add gradually to yeast mixture, either mixing with a wooden spoon or dough hook of a stand mixer until combined. If doing by hand, turn out of bowl onto a floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough. If using a stand mixer, knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, only slightly sticky dough.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Allow to rise till double in size (about an hour) in a warm, draft-free place.

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Punch down dough and turn out onto floured surface. Divide dough in half and refrigerate or freeze half for another use (or better yet, make 2 pizzas!).

On floured surface, roll/toss dough to make a 12-14 inch round (or sorta round). Place round on pizza stone and bake 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. This can be made ahead of time and wrapped in plastic for up to a day or frozen for a up to a month.

Roasted Veggies:
2 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned, stems removed and gills scraped off

2 large beets, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss beet slices with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Place beets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush tops and bottoms of mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place stem side up on baking sheet next to beets. Roast for about 15 minutes, until beets are tender. You may need to remove beets from the pan and roast mushrooms for 5-10 minutes longer, until tender. Slice mushrooms into strips about ½ inch wide. Roasting can be done ahead of time.

To assemble pizza:
Beet green pesto

Roasted beets and mushrooms

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Place a pizza stone or upside down baking sheet in oven and preheat to 525 degrees F.

Just before baking, spread pesto onto partially baked crust (you won’t use all the pesto). Top with roasted beet and mushroom slices. Sprinkle pepper jack and parmesan evenly over pizza. Bake about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is golden. If you’d like, turn the oven to broil for about a minute or two to brown the cheese slightly. Watch the pizza closely if you do this—it can go from perfect to burned in seconds.

Remove pizza from oven onto large cutting board and cut into wedges. Serves 2-4.

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup

Pete and I had blueberry ketchup for the first time a few months ago when we were checking out a new restaurant. The place had been getting mostly lousy reviews on Yelp, but I figured they just needed some time to work out the kinks. And they had 72 beers on tap. Seventy-two!!

The deep fried-cheese curds with blueberry ketchup were the one menu item that was consistently mentioned as good, if not great, on Yelp. Both Pete and I usually stay away from anything breaded and deep-fried, but we arrived at a busy time, had to wait at the bar for a table, and, unfortunately, were starving. Okay, let’s get an appetizer.

For a vegetarian, the sucky thing about appetizers at this type of restaurant is pretty much all of the options either contain meat or they’re deep-fried. Being as hungry as I was, in a weak moment, I suggested we order the deep-fried cheese curds with blueberry ketchup to go with our drinks. Maybe Pete, with his strong commitment to healthy eating, would say no, it’s deep fried—don’t want that. But he didn’t. And we ordered them. And they were good. Really, really good. Especially the blueberry ketchup!

We couldn’t finish the cheese curds, and when the bartender took away our by then cold basket with a puddle of grease on the bottom, I secretly wanted to grab the little cup that still had some delicious, once-foreign-to-me blueberry ketchup in it to take home. But I didn’t. And we haven’t been back because once we were seated and got our food, it was lackluster at best. The Yelp reviews are still lousy and we’ve pretty much forgotten about the place.

The blueberry ketchup wasn’t forgotten though. Now that local blueberries are available at the farmers market, I decided to look for a recipe. I settled on this one from Serious Eats, which sounded pretty close to that amazing flavor I remembered, but it needed some smokiness, so I added a little chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Bingo!

Now that I have this wonderful new condiment, how am I going to use it? We certainly aren’t going to make deep-fried cheese curds. But a couple days before I made the ketchup, it came to me in my sleep (seriously, does that happen to anyone else??), Smokey Blueberry Ketchup Pizza with Fresh Cheese Curds! I couldn’t get it out of my mind and stopped at the store that day after work to pick up a bag of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery cheese curds, made in the city of Ellsworth, the Wisconsin Cheese Curd Capital. And we all know the state of Wisconsin is the Cheese Capitol of the United States, so I knew they would be the best of the best.

Plated Pizza

Plated Pizza

Wisconsin Cheese Curds!

Wisconsin Cheese Curds!

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup and Cheese Curd Pizza

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup and Cheese Curd Pizza

Of course there are endless other uses for my now favorite condiment. On grilled vegetables or burgers, with fries, grilled cheese dipping, even on ice-cream for a sweet-savory treat–the list goes on. But the pizza was one I’ll definitely make again and can’t wait to share with others. Use a homemade or store-bought whole-wheat dough, the blueberry ketchup as pizza sauce, some sautéed spinach, chopped onion, veggie sausage (totally optional, and regular Italian sausage would be tasty for non-vegetarians), and the best fresh cheese curds you can find. On to the ketchup recipe—enjoy!

Smokey Blueberry Ketchup

Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from this recipe on Serious Eats

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium shallot, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root

1 medium garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, and include both sauce and peppers

1 pound fresh blueberries

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauce. Add in shallot and cook until softened, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add in ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and stir to combine.

Add in blueberries, vinegar, brown sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 30-45 minutes. At this point, if you like it chunky, you’re done, but if you want a smooth, more ketchup-like texture, blend with an immersion blender or in a food processor, until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, pour into a jar and store in refrigerator. Keeps for 2-3 weeks.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Pizza sliced
I love pizza! For its comfort, for its versatility, for its downright deliciousness and its ability to pretty much make everyone happy by a tweak of the toppings. Quite a few variations are in my pizza repertoire, but almost all of them have been built upon a whole wheat crust. Till now.

My dear Swedish “niece” Sarah shared a recipe on Facebook the other day from a blog called The Iron You. Intrigued by the title, I poked around the blog and found a bunch of mostly vegetarian recipes, many vegan, and lots of them gluten-free. Other terms listed next to recipe titles were Paleo (which I’ve heard of) and Primal (which I have not). A paleo, gluten-free pizza with a crust made from cauliflower just had to be made.

I deviated little from the crust part of the recipe (but did bake it on a stone instead of a baking sheet), and changed up the toppings, but since everyone has their favorites in that regard, the real takeaway is the crust. Very thin, crispy and beautiful, I think it will stand up best when lightly topped, and you’ll feel so good inside knowing that funny looking, but oh so healthy vegetable you probably turned your nose up to as a kid, is the star of the show!
Cauliflower CrustPizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Crust:
1 head cauliflower
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Topping:
Pizza sauce (homemade or good quality store-bought)
½  of a medium onion, finely chopped
½ of a medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
A sprinkling of pizza seasoning
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Place a pizza stone on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove leaves and core from head of cauliflower and roughly chop into like sized pieces. In batches, process in food processor until the consistency of rice. Put cauliflower “rice” in a microwave safe, non-plastic container and microwave uncovered for 8-10 minutes, until cooked.

Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel. Spread it out a bit and let cool for a few minutes. Bring corners of towel together and twist it to squeeze the moisture from the cauliflower. There will be a lot of water to squeeze out. And when you think you’ve squeezed it all out, squeeze some more. If you don’t get enough of the moisture out, you won’t end up with a crispy crust. Once the cauliflower has all the liquid squeezed out, transfer it to a bowl and mix in the egg, mozzarella, salt, oregano and pepper.

Lightly oil a sheet of parchment paper. Place cauliflower mixture onto parchment and press it into a very thin 10-12” round. Carefully transfer to the pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through baking time for even browning.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add toppings, except for crushed red pepper flakes. Bake 5-7 more minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and cut into wedges. Makes 2-3 servings. Enjoy!