Saturday, March 21, 2009

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

Butternut squash pizza chillin' on my new pizza stone.

Veggie Planet Pizza in Cambridge, MA has changed how I think about pizza. AJ and I attempted to recreate our favorite pie at Veggie Planet, the Lunch for Henry. Lunch for Henry is a delicious combination of butternut squash, fontina and goat cheese, caramelized onions, garlic, and rosemary. We stuck with those ingredients, but added some portabello mushrooms as well.

I was excited to try my hand at my first pizza dough. I bough a pizza stone, known for its ability to produce crispy crusts. I wanted to make a whole wheat crust and stumbled across a recipe for a super thin crispy crust. While I usually prefer a softer pizza crust I decided to give it a try.

Chopping up fresh thyme and rosemary for the pizza dough.

Mixing the whole wheat flour, salt, and herbs.

The pizza dough was fairly easy to put together. I began by proofing my yeast, a process that determines whether the yeast is alive. I placed a packet of active yeast in a little over 1/3 cup of warm water and a tablespoon of honey. It didn't start foaming initially, so I added some more warm water. Sure enough it started bubbling a minute later.

Proofing the yeast.

Letting the dough rise.

I mixed white whole wheat flour, salt, and some freshly chopped thyme and rosemary together in a large bowl. (JAM Note: The dough only needs to rise 20-30 minutes, so you can make this dough right before you plan on serving the pizza.) After the yeast mixture had sat for 10 minutes I added it to the flour. I mixed this with a spoon until it began to form a ball, adding a little bit of water until it came together. I turned the dough out onto a floured surface and began kneading it while adding about 1/4 cup of flour gradually. The final ball of dough was then placed in an oiled bowl and left to rise in a warm spot for 20 to 30 minutes.

Roasting the butternut squash, onions, and garlic.

With the pizza dough done, I decided to get working on my toppings. I peeled the top part of a large butternut squash and cut it into thin half moons. I placed this in a pan with olive oil, rosemary, an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. I roasted these at 400 F for 20-25 minutes.

Rolling out the dough.

When the vegetables were done roasting (JAM Note: This can be done a day in advance), I began sauteeing the onions and portabellos. While those were cooking up I rolled out the dough into a thin circle. I preheated the oven and placed the pizza stone into the cold oven. I added some oil and cornmeal to the stone so that my crust wouldn't stick. You want to place the pizza stone in the oven before it heats up because you want the heat to distribute evenly throughout the stone. This even distribution of heat is what makes the crust crispy.

Sauteeing the portabellos and onions.

After the oven preheated, about 10-15 minutes, I placed the dough on the stone and baked it for 15 minutes (JAM Note: I would probably only cook this for 10 minutes next time). After the crust has browned a little I added my toppings: goat and smoked fontina cheese, butternut squash, portabellos, onions, and garlic. I cooked the toppings for an additional 10 minutes.

The crust was super crispy, a little crispier than I like my crust, but it was very flavorful thanks to the addition of the fresh herbs. The roasted squash and goat cheese combo was phenomenal. I could almost just eat those two together. The roasted garlic and onions added nice sweet yet pungent component and the portabellos were a nice meaty addition to these earthy flavors. We may not be able to eat at Veggie Planet Pizza, but we can come pretty close to replicating it!

Next time I am going to work on a softer crust...

2.5 out of 3 JAMs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous that you have a pizza stone! You'll have to let me try it out when I come with your dad for a visit. Looks like you're having fun!