Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Butternut Squash Becomes a Pizza as well as Muffins with Apple and Hazelnuts

Ideas for recipes can sometimes come from funny places.  I had a butternut squash sitting on my counter for a couple of weeks and felt no real desire to make anything out of it.  It was just sitting there next to the pomegranates looking lonely.  Haven't done anything with pomegranates either, to tell you the truth.  They just keep coming in my CSA box and keep piling up in the fruit bowl.  My little one keeps asking me to make him pomegranate juice, which I suppose I'll get around to sooner or later.  I simply wasn't feeling inspired.

Then came a little post on my Facebook page from my sister-in-law.  She had gotten a bumper crop of butternuts and was looking for a new soup recipe to try.  I immediately set to work scouring my favorite blogs and sending her link after link of great soup recipes (and pasta and chili recipes too!).  All of a sudden I remembered my lonely little squash sitting on the counter and a wonderful looking pizza recipe I had recently pinned to my Pinterest board.  Finally, inspiration!

And let me tell you, I was blown away by the simplicity of the pizza, it's beauty, and the sweet nutty flavors.  It may be my new favorite lunch.  A pizza just for me; to enjoy in the quiet of nap time.  Heaven...

Here's the one I had problem with this lovely little pizza- I only used half of the squash.  Luckily, I had the forethought to roast the whole thing all at once, so I had half a roasted butternut all ready to go for some other fabulous use.  And I found it while looking for that soup recipe.  Tucked at the bottom of a butternut squash risotto recipe from Aran over at cannelle et vanille, was a recipe for a sweet little muffin.  And I had just enough squash puree to make the muffins.  I am soooo glad I found the recipe.  The muffin is divine and made of all sorts of tasty, good-for-you ingredients like whole wheat flour, apples and squash.

I ate four the first day (that was yesterday).  I won't tell you how many are left after breakfast today, so don't ask, okay?

Butternut Squash Pizza
Adapted from alexandra's kitchen

I used pizza dough that I made from a basic no knead dough I had in the fridge.  You can find the recipe here.  Simply make up a batch and have it ready for when you are. Pull off a large orange-sized piece to use for the pizza and turn the rest into a great rustic bread another night.  You can also use store-bought pizza dough with no adjustments.  You'll need a 1 pound piece of dough for this recipe.  I didn't use the crispy sage that the original recipe called for (didn't have any), and I do regret it a bit.  I think the pizza could have used a bit of crunch.  It occurred to me afterwards that a bit a shredded prosciutto would be great sprinkled over the top before baking.  Try it and tell me what you think.

1/2 of a medium butternut squash ( the neck of the squash works well here), peeled and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tbs olive oil (or hazelnut oil, which is what I used- it gives the pizza a nice bit of nuttiness)
about 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
a few sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesean cheese
salt and pepper to taste
a 1 lb piece of pizza dough (at room temperature)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Lay the squash slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with a bit of live oil, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Separate the pieces into a single layer and bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are fork tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Turn the heat of the oven up to 450 degrees and slide a pizza stone in if you have one.  If you don't, a cookie sheet lined with parchment will work just fine.  You can preheat the cookie sheet if you want, just don't line it until you're ready to bake the pizza or the parchment may burn.

Mix together the olive oil and chopped garlic in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it reaches a 10 inch diameter.  Slide it onto a cornmeal dusted pizza peel (or the piece of parchment if you're using the cookie sheet).  Drizzle the garlic infused oil over the pizza.  You can leave the garlic in the oil or strain it out before hand- that's up to you and how much garlic you like.  Spread the ricotta thinly over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border.  Arrange the cooked butternut squash slices over the top, then sprinkle with thyme leaves, the pecorino or parmesean cheese and a bit of salt and pepper if you like.

Slide the pizza into the oven and bake for 15- 20 minutes.  When it's reached your desired level of crispiness, carefully remove it, cut into four wedges and drizzle with a bit of hazelnut oil if you have any.  Olive oil would work as well.
Butternut Squash, Apple and Hazelnut Muffins
Adapted from cannelle at vanille 
(makes about 18 standard sized muffins)

The original recipe is a fantastic gluten-free recipe.  I didn't have the ingredients needed to follow it exactly, so I used what I had on hand and I think the muffins came out beautifully.  They still retain the spirit of the original.

1 cup butternut squash puree (I roasted the bottom half of a medium butternut squash for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, then cooled it and pureed it in a food processor)
1 medium apple, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
3 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used pure cane sugar)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts (you can buy hazelnut meal or grind it yourself in a food processor or coffee grinder)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or spray 18 muffin cups with non-stick spray or line them with muffin/cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, Whisk together the squash puree, shredded apple, eggs, buttermilk and brown and granulated sugars.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  If you have any extra, sprinkle the tops with a bit of ground hazelnuts.  Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and back to front halfway through.  The muffins are done when they spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.


  1. WOW that pizza looks soooooo tasty! I actually have trader joe's fresh pizza dough in my fridge and need to make this. There is a restaurant in Northern California called Lark Creek and they did a similiar one and it was delish! Hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

    1. Thanks Lisa! It was really fantastic- let me know how it turns out for you if you make it. I would love to get up to the northern part of the state and do some restaurant hopping. I'll keep Lark Creek in mind!