Friday, December 16, 2011
ROASTED SQUASH PIZZA WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND BACON
Just when I think I’m running out of pizza-topping combinations to try, another one presents itself. As soon as I saw this recipe at Dinner With Julie, I knew it would be perfect, and perfect it was—an addictive, comforting blend of smoky, salty, sweet, and creamy.
My one misstep was in using a package of pre-cubed butternut squash from Trader Joe’s; normally I frown upon such things, but we’d missed that week’s farmers’ market due to our Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota. I could’ve picked up a whole squash at the grocery store, but I wanted to make things easier on myself post-vacation, and I figured TJ’s usually has pretty good produce, so… Live and learn, right? The squash was so slimy and soggy that it took forever to roast properly; it just kept steaming away in the oven without browning, and I had to bake it nearly twice as long just to get any color and crispness on it. Then, when I popped a piece into my mouth, I discovered it was nearly flavorless, so I desperately sprinkled a little brown sugar over the rest and threw it back into the oven until the sugar caramelized. That seemed to help the sweetness along and the pizza tasted great, but: never again.
On the plus side, I had been planning to just use mozzarella on this, but then I remembered I had some cheese odds and ends left over from making kale pizza a few weeks before, so I added those into the mix. I think the Asiago in particular really made this spectacular, balancing out the sweetness of the squash and onions with its pungent sharpness. And, of course, the bacon didn’t hurt either. I’ve had a run of just-OK pizza experiments lately, but this one was an unequivocal success, probably the best I’ve tried since July’s corn-feta-cilantro-lime awesomeness.
About 1 pound butternut or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound pizza dough
Shredded cheese to taste (I used a mixture of mozzarella, Asiago, and Fontina, which I highly recommend)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place the cubed squash on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until soft and browned. Remove from oven and set aside, then increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
3. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Add the onion to the drippings in the skillet and sauté until tender and caramelized.
4. Roll out the pizza dough, place it on a baking sheet coated with cornmeal or olive oil, and scatter half the cheese over it. Add the squash, onions, and bacon, then top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
Time: 75 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.