It has been my experience that being married to an Italian person requires a significant amount of time spent discussing pizza.
Prior to meeting A., I mistakenly believed that pizza was just the product of a very simple equation:
dough + sauce + cheese = pizza (The End.)
Oh, sweet mother of a pizzaiolo, how wrong I was.
First, you’ve got your Crustology: thin, thicker, thickest and baked in a pan, crispy, bubbled, or flavored (sacrilege!).
And the crust really can make or break a pie: it’s the vehicle for your goodness so it needs to be strong enough to travel well. But it can’t be so assertive as to steal the spotlight away from the toppings, right? Sì, signora.
Then you have the ever controversial topics of Sauceage and Toppingistry.
These are the discussions and decisions that can tear families apart, so best tread lightly.
I will tell you that it was the work of years of character building for me to finally admit that I prefer sauce-less pizza. I know, I know, but I just find pizza sauce to be slightly on the cloying side of sweet, and I prefer to just pile my dough high with toppings and cheese.
I make up for my heathen avoidance of sauce by being open to just about any topping and any cheese, and I find a significant amount of fun in creating pizzas with combinations that really sing.
Like this butternut squash, pork chorizo, sautéed carrot and leek winning pie!
I’m sure A. will insist that I save myself a tremendous amount of embarrassment by calling this a flatbread instead of a pizza, but I believe that part of the Zen of pie is that you can do pretty much whatever you want to yours and you’re never truly wrong.
So I’m going to go enjoy my pizza/flatbread now. This recipe yields 2 pizzas so you can have some, too. Just don’t bust up my Pizza Zen moment.
Butternut Chorizo Pizza
recipe for the pizza dough adapted from Kidspot Kitchen
For the pizza dough:
2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt
2 c. self-rising flour
all-purpose flour (for dusting your work surface, your rolling pin, and your hands)
For the toppings:
1 butternut squash (see instructions below for preparing)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, finely ground
1 tsp. garlic, ground
10 oz. pork chorizo, cooked
1 c. carrot, grated
1 c. leek, chopped
3 c. Oaxaca cheese (mozzarella can easily be substituted here), shredded
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare the squash, halve it and rub the exposed flesh with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Place each piece cut side-down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover their tops tightly with tin foil. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the flesh is fork tender. Remove and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out and discard the seeds, then remove the flesh to a large bowl, discarding the remaining skins. Stir in the garlic and just a bit more salt to taste (you may need to mash the flesh a little with a fork just to make it slightly more workable). For comparison, my squash yielded approximately 2 cups of flesh. Set the seasoned, mashed squash aside.
Raise the temperature of the oven to 425° and line two more half sheet-sized baking sheets with parchment.
To prepare the carrots and leeks, place the pieces in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over a medium flame. I used the oil that remained in the pan from cooking my chorizo, but you could use a clean pan and a drizzle of olive oil instead. Cook the carrots and leeks for just 3-5 minutes or until tender, slightly browned, and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, to prepare the dough, place the self-rising flour and yogurt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Note that you can knead this dough to the proper consistency by simply working it with the dough hook at a low speed for 3-5 minutes, or you could opt to mix the ingredients to a loose dough and then knead it by hand for the same amount of time. Ultimately you’re looking for a shaggy, sticky, cohesive dough that has come together into a solid ball.
Once your dough has come together, divide it into two pieces and remove each to a liberally dusted work space (I find it to be easiest to roll my pizza crusts out on the same piece of parchment paper that I’ll eventually use for baking). Using a dusted pin, roll your crusts out to a thickness of approximately 1/4″. Divide the mashed squash between the two crusts, spreading as evenly as possible over each. Divide the chorizo, carrots, and leeks between the two pizza crusts, then finish each with liberal doses of cheese. Remove to prepared baking sheets (or, if using my method described above, simply slide your crusts already on top of parchment right on to your pans) and bake for approximately 18 minutes. Finished pizzas will boast golden crusts and golden, bubbling cheese on top. If you prefer a really toasted pizza (as I do) throw on the broiler and broil for a few minutes, watching carefully so your pies don’t scorch. Remove cooked pizzas and serve immediately.
YIELD: 2 large half sheet-sized pizzas