My housemate, who makes the best waffles ever, frequently laments that food you cook yourself never tastes as good as food that someone else cooks for you. It makes sense, because you criticize your own food in a way you wouldn’t if someone else had made it.
This is a big part of why I love going out for pizza; it’s nice sometimes to just sit back and enjoy food without needing to taste critically. Unfortunately, there’s only one restaurant in this small town that has halfway decent pizza, and even that is usually a disappointment… but I still take my chances now and then.
Last time I went, they served a pizza similar to this. When it came to the table, it was so gorgeous that I just wanted to stare at it. The colors of the pickled onions, butternut squash, and pesto were vibrantly pink, orange, and green respectively. The potatoes and cauliflower were astonishingly snowy white. I was too delighted by looking at it to question why the colors were so vibrant…
…and then I took a bite. Unfortunately, nothing on the pizza had been cooked before going on, and the pizza didn’t bake long enough for the toppings (or the crust, for that matter) to cook through. Slightly warmed toppings are definitely pretty because the colors are so pure, but … well, I think it goes without saying that raw squash and cauliflower on a pizza isn’t worth pretty colors.
Here’s my take on that pizza. I tweaked the toppings a bit, and made sure the ones that needed to be cooked were actually cooked. I think it’s still very pretty, but more importantly, it actually tastes good.
Pizza with Pesto, Butternut Squash, Potato, Pickled Red Onion, and Feta
- 1 pizza dough ball (either basic pizza dough or 2-hour pizza dough is fine)
- ½ small red onion
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1 small Yukon Gold potato
- 1 piece of butternut squash, 2" by 3"
- extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup pesto
- 3 ounces mozzarella, cut into cubes
- 1 ½ ounces crumbled feta
Make your pickled red onion:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with your pizza stone inside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Put the 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small, flat pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Trim the top and bottom off the red onion, then peel off and discard the outer layer. Cut the onion into slices.
- Once the vinegar mixture has come to a simmer, remove it from the heat and put the onion slices into the hot vinegar. Set aside for 20-30 minutes, or until you’re ready to make your pizzas.
Slice and roast the potato and squash:
- While the red onion pickles, slice the potato and 2” by 3” piece of butternut squash thinly using a mandoline (or a knife). The slices should be thin enough to be translucent, but not so thin that they’re transparent.
- Toss the slices of potato and butternut squash with enough olive oil to generously coat, along with salt and pepper to taste.
- Arrange in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until tender and beginning to brown around some edges, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn the heat up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Assemble and bake your pizza:
- Stretch the pizza dough to an approximately 12” circle. Brush evenly with olive oil.
- Brush the 1/4 cup of pesto over the dough in an even layer, leaving an approximately 3/4” rim around the outside uncoated.
- Evenly top the pesto-spread dough with the 3 ounces of mozzarella cubes. Arrange the roasted potato and butternut squash on top.
- Sprinkle with the 1 1/2 ounces of crumbled feta, and finally top with the pickled red onions.
- Bake the pizza until the crust is golden-brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly, turning once about halfway through.