Take, for example, the rustic pizzas featured here today. In taste, color and texture, they easily rival conventional pizzas.
The dough for these special pies is rolled very thin, so when baked it is crisp and golden. The toppings include a medley of enticing flavors, starting with caramelized onions, and continuing with roasted cubes of butternut squash and sprinklings of creamy goat cheese and smoky vegan bacon or pastrami.
The sweetness of the onions and squash complement beautifully the saltiness of the cheese and bacon.
These pizzas would make a fine main course for a casual supper for friends. Add a salad, buy some gelato and biscotti for dessert, and presto, you've got an original, yet inexpensive menu perfect for cold weather entertaining.
RUSTIC PIZZAS WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, GOAT CHEESE AND BACON
MAKES 2 pizzas to serve 4.
- 1 1/2 cups flour, divided, plus extra if needed
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-rising active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup warm water (115-125 F), plus extra if needed
- 4 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary, divided
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 4 vegan bacon or pastrami slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups thinly sliced onions (about 3/4 pound)
- Cornmeal for dusting
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For dough, place 3/4 cup flour, yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil and water in a mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon to blend. Stir in remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and mix until a smooth ball of dough is formed. If dough seems too wet, add up to a tablespoon extra flour; if too dry, add up to a tablespoon more water. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
Place ball of dough in a greased mixing bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes, then punch down. (Dough can be made a day ahead; cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
Arrange an oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 400 F. Spread squash on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each rosemary and salt, plus several grinds of pepper. Toss to coat well, then bake, until squash is lightly browned and soft, about 30 minutes. Stir after 15 minutes.
In a large skillet set over medium heat, saute bacon until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pan. Place over medium heat and saute onions, stirring often, until golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Add remaining rosemary and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Increase oven temperature to 450 F, and arrange racks at upper and lower positions. Punch down dough, then divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a thin 12-inch round. Sprinkle 2 baking sheets with cornmeal and place a round on each. Top each round with half of the onions, then with half of the squash, bacon and cheese. Fold over the outer 1/2-inch edge of each round and pinch to make a rim.
Bake pizzas until toppings are hot and crusts are crisp and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Reverse pans top to bottom halfway through. Whisk together remaining olive oil and vinegar, and drizzle a little over each slice.