Remember that summertime arugula pizza with tomato and squash strewn on top like confetti? Meet her sister pizza. She’s a capricorn like me. More bold, serious and perhaps even more stunning than her summertime counterpart. She knows how to get what she wants.
This pizza was inspired by Food and Wine’s November cover. Did you see it? It had a beautiful butternut focaccia on it. I was completely entranced by those caramelized butternut ribbons in the grocery store checkout line—so much so that I got teased for it—but that cover got my wheels spinning. My subconscious couldn’t let it go, apparently, because this pizza concept materialized a few days ago.
At first, I intended to make kale pesto instead of arugula, but I couldn’t find kale at the grocery store and had arugula already at home. I’m glad, because arugula’s peppery flavor plays nicely with sweet butternut. I’d also intended to use pecans instead of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), but The Vegetarian Flavor Bible suggested pepitas instead and they’re just perfect here. Plus, that means the pizza is nut free, if you’re making pizza for someone with allergies.
Lastly, I couldn’t decide which cheese to use on top, but after a test run with several different cheese on top like a patchwork quilt, goat cheese won by a landslide. Mozzarella or maybe even feta would be tasty substitutions if you don’t love goat cheese like I do.
Both the pesto and the dough come together really quickly in the food processor, so you’re looking at an easy gourmet pizza recipe here. Pizza night soon?
(Cookie learned how to climb the three steps up my tabletop-height photography stool yesterday. I’m in for so much trouble.)
- 3 cups lightly packed fresh arugula, tough stems removed
- ¾ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or pecans
- ½ to ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 batch easy whole wheat pizza dough
- 5 ounces chilled goat cheese
- 1 small butternut squash (1 pound squash is more than plenty)
- Garnishes: More pepitas, arugula and some red pepper flakes for sprinkling on top
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Or, if you're using a pizza stone, make sure it's in the oven on the appropriate rack (consult manufacturer's directions).
- Using a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler works best), peel the outside of your butternut, then slice off the top portion with the stem and the very bottom. Slice the butternut in half vertically, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard them. Slice one of your halves in half vertically again so you have made quarters. Using your vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons of butternut, enough to generously top two 11-inch pizzas. Toss butternut ribbons with a light drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper so that the ribbons are lightly coated in olive oil.
- To make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the arugula, pepitas, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
- Prepare the pizza dough as directed. I like to roll out the dough on pieces of parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven. For best results, roll the dough out as thin as reasonably possible while maintaining an even surface level.
- Lightly oil the outer edge of the pizza with olive oil. Spread each pizza with half of the pesto. Then crumble half of the goat cheese over each pizza using a fork. Arrange the butternut ribbons on top—it’s best to let them curl and wave rather than lie flat against the pizza. You want to put about as much butternut as you reasonably can on top without covering up all of the pesto and goat cheese (refer to photos). Top each pizza with a sprinkling of pepitas.
- Transfer one pizza to the oven (I baked mine on a cookie sheet). Bake until the crust is golden and the butternut ribbons are caramelizing on the edges (about 10 on a baking sheet, or as few as 5 minutes on a baking stone). Repeat with remaining pizza. Top each pizza with a light sprinkle of fresh arugula and, if desired, a dash of red pepper flakes. Slice and serve.
Preparation tips: This recipe is designed for immediate consumption! The dough is best baked immediately after making, and the pesto will oxidize over time.
Change it up: Feel free to trade other greens (like kale) for the arugula or nuts for the pepitas. Top the pizza with whatever's in season!
Make it quick: You can certainly buy pre-made pizza dough or pre-cooked flatbread instead of making your own dough. Just adjust toppings and baking time as necessary.