It may be October, but here in Florida we really have to ease into autumn, otherwise you really start to question your own mental stability. “What was I thinking???” is what you will ask yourself as you sweat through your long-sleeve cotton shirt while you sip a pumpkin spice latte on any given 85 degree evening. So you compromise. Well, I do anyway.
I eat pumpkin Noosa Yoghurt and drink pumpkin spice iced coffee, and buy as much seasonal produce as I can plan into my meal line-up. Butternut squash is a no-brainer, and is actually available year-round, but it feels so much more appropriate and festive to eat it in the fall, don’t you think?
This Butternut Squash Pesto Pizza makes me a little giddy. The combination of flavors is so unexpected. It shouldn’t work but it does, and it’s delicious. Pizza is easy-to-eat food, so we bring it to our backyard table and pretend it’s 15 degrees cooler than it actually is (no really, campfire and all).
Putting this pizza together takes a bit of preparation, and because there are several steps to this, I make the process a little easier by buying pesto, but if you make your own, you deserve a round of applause. You can use a store bought pizza crust, or you can make your own. Honestly, the flavor and texture of homemade pizza crust is so much better, and it requires very little effort. This pizza dough recipe is….well I’m having trouble coming up with an adjective worthy of it. It makes two balls of dough, so use one for this pizza, and freeze the other one. That extra pizza dough means you have 1 of the 5 ingredients needed to make this for dinner.
So a quick overview:
After roasting the squash and onions, you spread the pesto on your partially baked pizza crust.
Then you top it with the squash and onion mixture. Then you add chopped roasted red bell peppers and walnuts.
Then you sauté some pancetta and add that.
Time for cheese! Asiago and Feta.
Bake for another 6-10 minutes and then this golden brown beauty is ready!
Kick back with a glass of wine and enjoy a ridiculously good introduction to fall.
Butternut Squash Pesto Pizza
Adapted from Pillsbury
2 1/2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 homemade pizza crust OR 1 (13.8 oz) can Pillsbury® refrigerated classic pizza crust
4 ounces pancetta, diced (you can easily make this vegetarian by omitting)
3 tablespoons basil pesto
1/2 cup chopped drained roasted red bell peppers (from 7-oz jar)
1/3 cup Chopped Walnuts
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (4 oz)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 oz)
Heat oven to 400°F. In medium bowl, mix squash, onion, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Spread mixture on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender.
Spray large baking sheet or pizza pan with non-stick spray. Lay pizza dough on pan or stretch into a 13×9-inch rectangle on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F 7 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Meanwhile, in 10-inch skillet, heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add pancetta; cook until fat is rendered, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain on paper towels.
Spread pesto over partially baked crust. Top with squash mixture, pancetta, roasted peppers, walnuts and cheeses. Bake 6 to 8 minutes longer or until edges are golden brown. You may need to turn the oven to broil during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.