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!

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

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

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

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.



Brussels Sprout, Kale and Okra Tortilla Cups with White Bean Purée


As a kid, I would ask Mom or Dad for a sip of their coffee, and my face would scrunch up at the bitter taste, prompting me to ask, “How can you drink that?” They would tell me I would like it when I grew up. And I did, and do. A lot. But there were other things they told me I would like when I grew up and I didn’t. Really didn’t. Like mushrooms. And olives. It wasn’t until my 30s I stopped shivering at the thought of mushrooms, and eventually ended up embracing their earthy goodness, especially portabellas. It was even later that my palate “matured” to the point where olives are always in my fridge and at times I crave them, particularly Spanish Manzanilla  stuffed with pimentos!



But Brussels sprouts didn’t pan out that way. Hated them as a kid; hated them as an adult. And still hated them as a middle-aged adult. Until I had my sister-in-law’s Brussels sprouts. She opened up a whole new Brussels sprouty world to me. Jeannie is a fantastic cook and a master of presentation. Everything she makes is as beautiful as it is delicious. And she often makes a second, vegetarian version of her dishes just for me, even though I’m the only vegetarian at the holiday table. Gravy, stuffing, salad, and on that historic day, Brussels sprouts. One version with bacon, and one with veggie bacon. I wanted to say, “No thank you, I don’t care for them.” But since she went to the trouble of making a vegetarian bowl just for me, how could I not take a little bite? And then other bite, and another—then I found myself asking for seconds! How could it be? That’s when I learned, cooked the right way, Brussels sprouts are divine! Thank you, dear sister-in-law!



I’ve since made Brussels sprouts a number of times, a number of ways, and now look forward to them appearing at the farmers’ market. Last weekend I spotted a beautiful tray, along with the biggest bunch of kale I have ever seen. For this dish, they’re incorporated along with some okra, remaining after making a batch of veggie gumbo, (recipe coming in a future post) into this really delicious meal (add a poached egg on top of each cup when they come out of the oven and you have brunch). I hope, if you’re like I was not so very long ago, you give Brussels sprouts another try—I don’t think you’ll regret it.


Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Okra Tortilla Cups with White Bean Purée

White Bean Purée
1 15oz can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 small potato, cooked (microwaved is fine—peel after cooked), peeled and diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Vegetable Mixture
1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive or grapeseed oil
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cup sliced okra
1 ½ cup Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
6 kale leaves, tough stems removed, then chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

6 corn or whole wheat flour tortillas

Sriracha or other hot sauce
Chopped fresh tomato
Diced avocado

In blender or food processor, blend beans, potato, garlic, oil, vinegar, parsley, lime juice, crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper. Blend until smooth. If too thick, add some reserved bean liquid, a tablespoon at a time, until smooth and creamy, but not runny. Taste, and  adjust seasonings. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Set out a 6-cup jumbo muffin or popover pan.

To make the vegetable mixture, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add shallots and cook a couple minutes, stirring once or twice. Add okra and Brussels sprouts, and flatten to a single layer. Cook, stirring a couple times to ensure even browning, 5-7 minutes until nicely browned. Add kale, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and salt & pepper, and cook until kale softens, about 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Brush a tortilla lightly with olive or grapeseed oil (you may want to warm tortillas briefly in microwave before brushing with oil to make them more pliable). Fit into muffin cup, overlapping sides to form cup. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon 2 tablespoons white bean puree in each tortilla cup. Spoon Brussels sprout-kale-okra mixture on top, distributing it evenly among all six cups. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tortillas are crisp. Remove cups from muffin pan and plate with some remaining white bean puree and a drizzle of sriracha. Top with tomato and avocado. Makes 6 tortilla cups.