Last Sunday we headed out of the city with some friends to do some apple picking and wine tasting at an apple orchard and vineyard, and afterwards we went to Marc’s parents house to make pizzas. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but Marc’s parents have a wood burning oven in their backyard. It’s pretty much the coolest thing ever and they make incredible pizzas in there, on the regular. We’ve tried our fair share of pizza in the Twin Cities and I’m not kidding you – the crust they make cannot be beat. We love it so much we even had our rehearsal dinner in their backyard with pizzas for dinner!
My inlaws also have the pizza making toppings down too, with combinations ranging from mushrooms and truffle, pear and blue cheese, to Italian sausage and red sauce. This time, however, we were in charge of the toppings.
With a group of friends who love food, our first shot at bringing the toppings was a huge success. We had roasted peppers, onions, and corn, beets, caramelized onions, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh sausage and cave-aged she eps’ cheese from the farmers market. Oh, and truffle oil. You cannot go wrong with truffle oil on pizza.
Since making a smoky squash and red pepper soup recently (from this lovely lady’s cookbook), I’ve been obsessed with the concept of ‘smoky’ squash, and with inspiration from another pizza outing earlier in the week, I decided to try a new combination of squash and eggplant for pizza toppings. The squash gets it’s smoky flavor from chiles en adobo sauce, which also give it a good kick. I broiled the eggplant before putting it on the pizza to make sure they were soft, and threw on some raw kale which got nice and crispy in the hot wood burning oven. If you’re looking for a fun new fall-ish pizza to try – give this a shot! It was one of my favorites.
And with that, I’ll leave you with more pictures of our pizza making fall evening.
for the squash:
- 1 small butternut squash
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp cream or milk
- 1-2 tbsp chiles en adobo sauce depending on how spicy you want it
- 1/2 tsp salt
for the eggplant:
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
for the pizza:
- ~1/3 cup curly kale roughly chopped
- pizza crust your favorite homemade recipe or store bought*
- ~1/2 cup shredded cheese depends on how big your pizza crust is - Havarti, Mozzarella, or Fontina would all work well
To cook the squash:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut butternut squash in half. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place cut side up on baking sheet and bake in oven 50-60 minutes, until squash is tender throughout.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
To cook the eggplant:
- While squash is cooking, cut eggplant into small triangle pieces. I did this by slicing 1/4-1/2" thick slices, then quartering the slices.
- Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet and season with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to let the eggplant "sweat."
- After 30 minutes, there will be some condensation on the eggplant. Dab dry with paper towel.
- Drizzle eggplant with olive oil, making sure it is well distributed among the pieces.
- Once butternut squash is done roasting, turn oven's broiler on.
- Place eggplant on baking sheet under broiler and broil until golden. In my oven, this took about 5 minutes, but watch yours carefully so it does not burn.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
To make squash puree:
- Now that the squash is done cooking, scoop out the flesh of into a blender.
- Combine with the remaining olive oil, cream, chiles en adobo, and salt.
- Blend until pureed. You may have to mix around with spoon every once in awhile to get it all through the blender, as there is not much liquid for the puree.
To assemble the pizza:
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
- Roll out pizza dough.
- Spread generous layer of squash puree over crust, as you would with marinara pizza sauce. You will not use all the puree for one pizza.
- Top with slices of eggplant, along with the raw kale. You will also not need all of the eggplant for one pizza. See note below.
- Top with shredded cheese - enough to cover the toppings.
- Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Slice and enjoy!