autumny pizza for weekends

I've been on this huge roasted vegetable kick. The first combination was broccolini, onion, and cauliflower. Then came the sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts week. Recently I subbed out the broccoli and cauliflower for carrots and squash, and added some potatoes for a little more oomph because winter is coming and I just want to wear warm sweaters and drink coffee-hot chocolate (think poor man's mocha).

The best part about roasting veg is adding the spices! That's where the magic is. My favorites so far have been a sprinkling of garam masala and cayenne, and one day I added tumeric to my cumin and chili powder and had a very happy tummy. I'm finally getting to the point where less and less of my food tastes like just salt. I've been enjoying this new palate of mine and never going back to my old, plain Jane ways.

This pizza's got that autumny flavor that I've been dying to test out. It's a combination of all the best fall things - butternut squash, apple sausage, and sage. Which are then made even better with sauteed onions and garlic and topped with melty mozzarella and salty feta to balance out the sweet tones form the sausage and squash. Andrew's first comment when he bit into the pizza was about the flavors - he was pretty impressed which made me get all prideful until I remembered I also burned the breadsticks last night. Ah well, you win some, you lose some. And I'll have to say, this pizza's pretty amazing. Perfect for your weekend pizza night (since we all have those, yes?)

Note: I made this in a skillet, skillet pizza style, so it's written as such. However, if you don't have a cast iron skillet I imagine that this would work out just fine as a regular oven pizza too - just roll out your dough onto a baking sheet and put on the toppings and put in an oven that's preheated to 375 F. But it's so fun and exhilarating to use a skillet so if you're feeling extra adventurous I urge you to try it!!


Autumn pizza

For the pizza dough (makes enough dough for 2 10-inch skillet pizzas)
1 + 2 tbsp warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butternut squash pizza (ingredients listed are enough for 1 skillet pizza)
1/2 small butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt and pepper
1 pinch garam masala
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sage leaves finely chopped plus 4-5 roughly torn sage leaves
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 chicken sausage link, sliced
Flour for dusting
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

For the dough (makes enough dough for 2 10-inch skillet pizzas)
In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, honey, and vegetable oil and then let sit for 10 minutes until foamy. In a medium bowl, mix flours and salt until well combined. Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and stir until the dough is sticky. Take dough out on a well floured surface and knead, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of the flour+salt mixture for about 5-8 minutes. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. After 1 1/2 hours, sprinkle some more flour on top of the dough then place the dough on a well floured baking sheet. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half of dough into a round that will fit your skillet on a well floured plate that you can easily slide the dough from the plate to the skillet.

For the pizza
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and cover with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast until fork tender (about 30 minutes). Let the squash cool before handling. Once cool, scoop out the flesh and place in a medium bowl. Add garam masala in the bowl and mash up the flesh until it reaches a thick, puree consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a non cast iron skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the red onion and sausage links and cook for 4 minutes. Then add the garlic, finely chopped sage leaves, and sausage links to the skillet and cook for an additional 6 minutes.
At this point, turn on your broiler to high and make sure the oven rack is set to the top most level. Additionally, heat your cast iron skillet on the stove top (you want the skillet to get very hot - if it starts to smoke though, turn down the heat and then just turn it back up when you're ready to go).
Top your pizza dough with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella. Top that with the sausage mixture and dollops of the squash puree. Add the remaining mozzarella and feta cheese on top. Top with the roughly torn sage leaves.
Carefully slide your pizza onto the hot cast iron skillet, dough side down. Let the pizza cook for 1 minute, then turn off the stove top and using heavy towels or thick potholders, move your cast iron skillet into the oven. Broil the pizza for 1 1/2 minute, then open the oven and rotate the skillet 180 degrees using the handle (be careful, it will be very hot!). Cook for an additional 2 minutes, and then remove the skillet from the oven. Let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes, then remove from the skillet. Enjoy your damn good squash pizza because it's the weekend and you deserve a cold beer to go with it.