This gorgeous pizza pie was inspired by the incredible True Food Kitchen-Chicago. My husband, Alex, her boyfriend, and I had dinner there on Christmas Eve, and the hubby ordered their butternut squash smoked onion, organic kale, vegan almond ricotta, and dried cranberry pizza. It was AMAZING! I knew that I needed to recreate it at home, and it finally happened.
The Breakfast King and I made homemade pizza dough on Sunday, and spent the afternoon putting our own twist on what is one of my favorite vegetable pizza recipes ever. It’s a mild and rustic winter pizza that requires several steps, but they’re all easy and fun to do.
The first step is making the crust. If you’ve never made your own pizza crust, it’s time. There is nothing better. Our recipe has cornmeal and minced garlic in it, and it’s pretty freaking incredible. It’s also really crispy and chewy, just like it should be. It only takes fifteen minutes to make the dough, and then you have to let it rise twice, which is great, because while the dough turns into a big pillow, you can roast the squash and make the almond ricotta (the almonds need to soak in water overnight, then you'll need to remove the skins).
Roasting the squash is a breeze. All you’ll need to do is quarter it, scoop the seeds out, sprinkle some salt and pepper and a bit of olive oil on top, and wrap in foil and roast for 45 minutes. While that’s happening, you can whip up the almond ricotta in the blender.
Once the dough is ready, it’s time to roll it out and make some pizzas.
How to Make Homemade Pizza
First things first, you have to make the crust. To make transferring the pizza to the oven easy, roll the dough out on a pizza slide or a thin cookie sheet. Cover it with a thin layer of flour and cornmeal to prevent sticking and pat the dough into a disc, then roll it out into a twelve-inch circle. Brush a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the crust and a bit of sea salt, then add the ricotta. Spread the ricotta evenly over the top, and finally, arrange the squash slices, onions, and cranberries. Carefully transfer the pizza to the hot stone, cookie sheet, or oven rack, and bake for fifteen to eighteen minutes. See note.
The pizza is done, now finish it by throwing a bunch of peppery arugula on top and then drizzle some tangy balsamic vinegar all over it.
Just look at that delicious, hot, melty, and colorful pizza! This is one of the mildest, most beautiful, elegant pizzas I’ve ever made. My rendition is a bit different than the one at True Food Kitchen. Their pizza has kale and patches of almond ricotta. I chose to spread the ricotta over the entire crust and use fresh arugula. They smoked their onions, and I put sweet white onions on top. Additionally, I drizzled balsamic vinegar on top for a bit of acid. Both pizzas are delicious.
This is the type of recipe that brings people together. It’s a weekend cooking project that’s perfect for a wintry Saturday or Sunday afternoon. And, because this recipe makes two twelve-inch pizzas, it would also be fun to invite friends over and make a party out of it.
Make it and come back and let me know how you liked it.
Note: If you have a pizza stone (I highly suggest getting one, they make the crust crisp up like nothing else) soak it in water for five minutes and pop it in the oven so it gets nice and hot. If you don’t have a stone, heat up a cookie sheet, or bake it on the oven rack, just make sure you put some foil or another cookie sheet on the bottom rack to catch any spillage that may occur.
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Butternut Squash and Almond Ricotta Pizza
- NOTE: To make the Almond Ricotta you’ll need to blanch and soak the almonds in water overnight.
For the Pizza Crust
- 1 1/3 cups water - divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil – plus extra to grease the bowl it will rise in
- 1 tablespoon quick-rise yeast
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 large clove garlic-minced 1 tablespoon, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the Almond Ricotta
- 1 ½ cups raw almonds
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
For the Toppings
- 1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small butternut squash
- 1 small sweet white onion – thinly sliced
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups of arugula
- Balsamic vinegar
For the Pizza Dough
- Proof the yeast first. In a small bowl, whisk 1/3 of a cup of warm water with the yeast and the sugar and let it sit for approximately 4 to 5 minutes or until it starts to bubble and looks foamy.
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined.
- Mix the remaining cup of water with the olive oil in a bowl. Pour the yeast into the water and olive oil and mix well.
- Attach a bread hook to your mixer and pour the yeast mixture into the flour, add the garlic, and mix on a slow speed. Scrape the flour from the sides of the bowl. Mix until it forms a ball (see note).
- Grease a large bowl, and your hands, and remove the dough from the mixer and roll it into a solid ball. Place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with a towel, and place in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.
- Remove the towel, the dough should have risen to more than twice the size of the original ball of dough. Punch it down in the middle and knead it in your hands for 15 seconds and roll it into another ball. Place it in the bowl, cover with the towel, and let it rise for another 30 minutes in a warm spot.
- Note: Due to differences in humidity and altitude, be prepared to make adjustments to the flour. If the dough seems too wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it forms a solid ball of dough. If the mixture is too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it forms a solid ball of dough
For the Squash
- Preheat the oven to 385°
- Cut the squash into quarters and remove the seeds. Grind salt and pepper on the squash, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, wrap in foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, slice the squash into ¼ to ½ inch slices.
- While the squash is roasting make the almond ricotta.
For the Almond Ricotta
- Blanche the almonds in boiling water for one minute. Drain the almonds and put in a medium bowl and cover with purified water, let sit overnight. Drain the water and rinse.
- Remove the skins from the almonds by pinching them. The skins should slide off easily.
- Put the almonds in a high-powered blender with a cup of hot water and 1 teaspoon of salt and blend on a high speed for approximately two minutes or until the almonds turn into a thick and light, almost fluffy, cheese. Squeeze the excess water out of the cheese, over a bowl, with a cheese cloth or a super fine strainer. Some of the cheese will seep through, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the bowl. Scrape the excess cheese off of the bottom of the strainer.
To Make the Pizza
- Preheat the oven and the pizza stone (don’t forget to soak it in water first) to 450°. If you don’t have a pizza stone you can bake it on a cookie sheet (heat it in the oven like you’d heat the pizza stone, so the bottom of the crust gets crispy) or on the oven rack (put foil or another cookie sheet on the bottom rack to prevent spillage.
- Evenly spread a handful of flour and cornmeal on a cookie sheet. Split the dough in half and pat one half into a disc and roll it out into a 12-inch circle. Evenly brush the olive oil over the top of the crust and grind a bit of sea salt for extra flavor. Spread half of the ricotta over the entire crust. Arrange the squash slices, onion, and cranberries over the crust and transfer the crust to the pizza stone, or bake it on the cookie sheet, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edge of the crust is golden brown and crisp.