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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Mushroom Lasagna with Butternut Squash Sauce

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It’s been many years since I’ve made the main Thanksgiving meal, but this year I have the honor.  And of course, being vegetarian, Thanksgiving dinner at my house is anything but traditional. I remember one year making what essentially was a pile of veggies and seitan in a delicious sauce, covered with puff pastry, then baked (it was sort of supposed to resemble the shape of a turkey). It was a huge hit, but sadly, I didn’t keep the recipe and have never been able to find it, despite endless Google searches.

This year, the usual hosts are going to another side of their family for the big celebration, so we, I’m happy to say, will take over the hosting duties for the rest of the family. With a busy schedule leading up to the holiday, basing our meal around a entrée that won’t require a ton of advanced prep time and will allow me to actually participate in the appetizers and drinks part of the party, is important.

That’s the nice thing about lasagna. You can prep all the ingredients ahead of time and pop it in the oven while you and your guests enjoy time together before sitting down to dinner. The only extras needed are a salad and maybe some good quality bread; no menagerie of side dishes required. But not a conventional lasagna. I want something seasonal, with butternut squash and mushrooms, that isn’t too rich.

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Don’t forget to roast the seeds!

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I looked at a lot of recipes and most had a béchamel or white sauce in place of the typical tomato, which can be heavy. The recipe I chose to adapt replaces the béchamel with a squash sauce that is amazing! The lemon zest just takes it over the top and makes for a truly unique and memorable (in a very good way) dish.

It’s also a very adaptable recipe. You can change the cheese if you can’t find Gruyere, change up the mushroom variety to what’s accessible, and use any hearty green. You can even add some veggie sausage if you want a more robust meal. I made a half recipe in an 8 x 8 pan as a taste test and it’s definitely holiday company-worthy, and I’m quite sure no one will miss the meat. Enjoy!
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Mushroom Lasagna with Butternut Squash Sauce

Adapted from this recipe
Can easily be halved and cooked in an 8 x 8 pan—cooking time remains the same

1 pound no-boil lasagna noodles, preferably whole wheat

2 to 2 1/2 pound butternut squash (or 2 pounds chopped squash)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large bunch chard, kale, or beet greens, washed, ribs/stems removed and cut into thin ribbons

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

½ pound oyster mushrooms, cleaned and broken apart

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 dry white wine

1 cup milk (between 2% and whole), plus additional if needed

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Zest of one medium-sized lemon

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves, plus extra for the top of the lasagna

2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Peel and seed the squash, then cut into 1-inch cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes or until soft, tossing a couple times to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.

While the squash is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a 10-12-inch frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Cook without stirring until brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn them over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves and the white wine and cook until the greens are tender and wilted. Turn off the heat and season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper.

Place the cooled squash into a large bowl and add 1/2 cup milk, the nutmeg, lemon zest and thyme. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, adding the remaining milk as you go (this can also be done in a regular blender). Add extra milk if necessary to make the sauce smooth and creamy, but not too thin. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly oil or butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. To assemble the lasagna, spoon about 1/4 of the butternut sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan and spread to thinly coat the bottom. Place 1/4 of the noodles on top and then spread 1/3 of remaining sauce on noodles. Top with 1/2 of the mushroom/greens mixture, and 1 cup of Gruyere cheese. Add another layer of noodles, then sauce, then the rest of the vegetables, and the remaining Gruyere. Top with the final layer of noodles and spread the last 1/3 of the sauce over top. Sprinkle evenly with the parmesan and a pinch of thyme leaves.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is golden and the cheese is gooey. Remove from the oven and let stand uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving. A nice green salad and some good bread make this a meal.

Spring Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad
Here in Minnesota, we’re emerging from the coldest winter in about 30 years. Temperatures are slowly warming, a lot of that hip-deep snow has melted and ducks and geese are returning to our still-frozen, but gradually thawing, pond. So understandably, we’re experiencing an epidemic of spring fever and I have not been spared!

Pastels and Easter décor are taking over the house, freshly-pedicured feet long for open toes, the liner has been removed from my trench-coat, I’m itching to hike or trail run, and I’ve got the urge to create light, bright meals full of color and crunch.

This resulting recipe is full of vibrant hued veggies, made light by slicing paper thin, combined with a burst of strawberry and fresh mint and served over substantial, yet delicate quinoa. A honey-kissed balsamic vinaigrette and shaved parmesan top off this eye-pleasing dish that makes a satisfying full meal. Enjoy! And happy spring!

Spring Quinoa Salad


1 cup uncooked traditional or red quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt (if using water)

1 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 small yellow squash, sliced paper thin
2 medium carrots, sliced paper thin
3-4 radishes, sliced paper thin
4 Brussels sprouts, shredded
4 medium ripe strawberries, sliced thin
A handful of pea shoots, chopped
¼ cup chopped herbs (I used mint, Italian parsley, and tarragon—heavy on the mint)
Salt, to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Good quality parmesan cheese, shaved thin (optional)

Rinse and drain quinoa. Place drained quinoa in a medium saucepan. Add water or stock, and salt (if using water). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a mandolin if you have one (or your best sharp knife, if you don’t), slice zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and radishes into paper thin slices. Place in a medium bowl. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pea shoots, and chopped herbs. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and toss again.
Sliced veggies

To make vinaigrette, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, honey, salt, and pepper in a small jar and shake until combined.

To serve, spoon quinoa onto serving plates, top with vegetable mixture. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with shaved parmesan. Makes about 4 servings.
Salad