I love marinara + cheese pizza as much as the next urban food blogger, but somehow I keep wanting more than that. (And yes, I did make a run-of-the-mill mozzarella and anchovy pizza the next time.) Inspired by my recent liberation of a butternut squash from an outdoors window display, I dug into Vegetarian Planet and made the pizza you see above, which was actually inspired by Didi Emmons’ encounter with a similar pizza at Chez Panisse.
Though my experiences with farming introduced me to many worthy winter squash varieties, butternut is still one of my favorites. Its size and versatility are pretty big advantages in a small kitchen — does anyone really like hacking away at 50 lb. Hubbards, as good as they are? Relatedly, my roommate absolutely hates squash, and the last time she was forced to eat it she cried. What a life I hope you don’t cry when you eat this, dear reader.
Butternut Squash and Rosemary Pizza
- Pizza dough, enough for 2 or 3 personal pizzas
- 2 shallots, sliced horizontally
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼” slices
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan or Asiago cheese, shredded
Saute the shallots with olive oil over medium high heat to brown them. Add the squash and rosemary and cook until the squash becomes tender, stirring frequently.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roll out the dough into rounds. Assemble the topping on top of the dough and bake for about 10 minutes. Once the pizzas are done, sprinkle with cheese (or don’t) and drizzle some olive oil on top.
The most dependable combination of flavors that I can pull out has always been mushroom and caramelized onion. (That’s a lie. When I was 4 it was white bread crumbs and my nose. Oh, sweet manna from heaven!) I first learned how to caramelize onions when I was 13, just messing around in the kitchen while my mom was at work. For some reason I was a vegetarian, so I would always be on the lookout for interesting things to put on my Gardenburgers, like sun-dried tomato tapenade, pesto, fried shallots and — of course — caramelized onions.
I’d point to my burgeoning awareness of the Maillard effect as one of the formative events of my life. Onions that were hell to eat raw became sweet, with a little bit of salt, olive oil and low heat. I became a motherfucking wizard. The following recipe is easy, especially because I cheated with Betty Crocker’s help. Sorry! I’m working on making my own pizza crust, but it’s slow going.
Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Pizza
- Pizza dough
- 3 mushrooms, chopped (fewer or more depending on how much crust you’ve got)
- half of an onion, sliced (doesn’t matter which kind)
- Gruyere cheese, grated
- Mozzarella cheese, fresh if you can get it
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- olive oil
- parsley, chopped
- truffle oil
Prepare pizza dough according to directions (lol). Sauté mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil, maybe throw some salt and pepper in there, put aside. Caramelize* onions over low heat, throw some sugar on top to facilitate the process. Brush your pizza dough, which should be on a baking pan/pizza stone at this point, with olive oil and spread the onions on top. I like to put the Gruyere on top of the onions, and then layer the mushrooms with the rest of the cheese. Do what suits you. Bake for however long it takes for your crust to firm up. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle it with parsley and a tiny drizzle of truffle oil.
*PROTIP: To caramelize an onion, throw it onto a pan with salt and olive oil (or butter) over medium heat. You can also add sugar, especially if you’re not using Vidalia or sweet onions. Stir the onions occasionally until they get soft and brown. It’ll take a few minutes, so be patient!
This will be part 1 of a series of posts about pizza in the town where I go to college. In this one I am mad, but satiated.
Out of the 6 or so places where one can get pizza in Grinnell, none of them will let you order by the slice! What’s the dealio here, people? If you’re craving pizza at 9pm and you only have $3 on your person, there’s not much you can do; your only option is to go to the Spencer Grill, which is on the first floor of the space station-esque student center. The pizzas there are tiny, around 8 or 9 inches in diameter, and the wait is pretty long because they bake them on those conveyor belt-type ovens that you’d expect to see in a hilariously inept supervillain’s torture chamber.
I was craving vegetable pizza, but they ran out! The bastards! So my awkward acquaintance-but-not-really, who was working behind the counter, threw a bunch of green peppers and onions on top. ”This is going to be the most incredible pizza you’ve ever had,” he boasted. Was it? It wasn’t too greasy, wasn’t too skimpy on the cheese. The crust was chewy but brief. I think I’m a fan. The biggest drawbacks for me are the wait and the fact that it’s so small and poofy that you can’t really fold the slices. Say what you will about college dining services, but they definitely got something sorta-good going here.
This winter break I’ve been kind of sluggish with updates, and for that I apologize. As thanks for your patience, I’ll be presenting my one-day guide to getting the best and cheapest food in New York City, which is fast becoming a modern city in its own right — we’ve finally built our first public bathroom that isn’t in a Starbuck’s today! I visited the majority of these places multiple times in the past, though the pictures were taken today as I was taking my friend Travis (of the Lone Star State) out and about the city. Are you ready to feast your eyes on this?
I forgot my camera when I went to rendezvous with my dear friend Emily, so here’s a sketch of what I had for dinner! We went down to a pizza place near Washington Square Park and got cups of Yolato™ — a mix of gelato and frozen yogurt, apparently — afterwards. We ate it in the park, near where a jazz quartet was performing. See, that’s the city that I know and love: an unpretentious, genuine cultural center where you can eat ice cream while listening to free jazz. Rock on.