Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Squash Blossom Pizza? Hello, Summer!

Tell me this doesn't look like a delicious late May dinner:

Even with the mediocre point & shoot picture quality, just looking at this pizza makes me want another slice.

This spring has really been a squash blossom discovery for me. Not just your typical fried squash blossoms (I had some great ones at Ford's Filling Station earlier this month before interviewing for the awesome new job Veronica and I landed). I had some in a light pasta dish, some in a risotto (wow, heavenly) and have spied them on pizza/flatbread menus all over town.

And so when I saw them at the market on Sunday, I figured, "How hard could a squash blossom pizza be?" And, for once, the answer was, "Not very hard." And thanks to a pre-made whole wheat pizza dough from TJs, the leftover mini-squashes from our Memorial Day bbq at Abby's and some cherry tomatoes, it actually seemed pretty freaking healthy. Especially when served with a crazy simple veggie sautee using the other bbq leftovers (The key to good sauteed veg? Lemon juice squeezed on after cooking).

Dare I say I've found a new vegetable lover? Sorry, beets, but your season is over.

Squash Blossom Pizza
by Sarah

1 Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough (or homemade dough for one 12-14" pizza)
12-24 squash blossoms (I bought 60¢ worth and used them all)
10 or so mini-squashes, thinly sliced OR 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 c. ricotta cheese (can be part skim or whole)
1/4 c. mozzarella (fresh is ideal, but I didn't have it and used pre-shredded without an issue)
freshly chopped basil
olive oil
dried basil & oregano
red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to the highest possible setting (about 550 farenheit on conventional kitchen ovens).
2. Toss, stretch or roll out your dough, to your preference. The thinner the better with this one. Then lightly sprinkle with olive oil (1 tsp or so) and rub oil into crust. Sprinkle dried basil, oregano and pepper flakes to your liking on crust.
3. THIS IS THE SECRET: Put your crust in the oven (either directly on a pizza stone or on a pizza sheet) and bake for 6-8 minutes. You want a decent brown-ness to the dough. This will keep it from getting too mushy, something the ricotta might do to your crust. I do this with all of our doughs when we cook pizza and it makes a HUGE difference. Gives a slightly more Neapolitan crunchiness to the crust, which I favor.
4. Remove dough from the oven and put on the toppings in whichever order you see fit (leave the squash blossoms and basil for later, though). I made a thin layer of the ricotta, then put on the thinly sliced mini-squashed and halved cherry tomatoes. *It's important to put the cherry tomatoes with the cut end facing UP. This way they won't sog-up your nice and crispy crust. Then I sprinkled the entire pizza with a small handful of the mozzarella. I think you could also do the veg first, then dollops of ricotta and spots of fresh mozzarella. It's pizza, you really can't fuck it up.
5. Put the pizza back in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Remove pizza again and put the squash blossoms on top. Slide back in the oven and cook for 5 more minutes.
7. Remove pizza and sprinkle with basil. Purple basil adds a colorful punch to the dish.
8. Enjoy pizza while watching the season finale of SOUTHLAND. Which totally kicked ass, by the way.

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