Among my friends, it’s understood that rain and wind means pizza is on the menu. It’s a habit that formed when I was living in Florence when a group of us would religiously meet up at the local pizzeria whenever it really began pouring out. A blustery rainstorm only happens a few times a year out here in California, but when it does, I immediately start making pizza. There’s something about sitting next to a wood-fired oven with a glass of hearty red wine that really ups the coziness factor of a wintry day, know what I mean? While I may not have a kick-butt Italian pizza oven, I do have a technique that does a good job mimicking the oven, minus the char. And the big glass of hearty red wine? Well, you could skip it though I’d highly recommend you don’t.
Blue Cheese, Shallot, and Delicata Squash Pizza Recipe
Makes 4 (6 inch) pizzas
Delicata squash is, as the name suggests, a more delicate, thin-skinned winter squash, which can be roasted and eaten with the skin on. I like to roast it in the following manner and use it as a quick side dish, tossed with pasta, or on top of a winter greens salad for a nod to the season. As for the pizza dough, I use my recipe for standard pizza dough and substitute half white whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. However, a lot of stores (such as Trader Joe’s) have reliably good pizza dough that you can buy in a pinch. One last thought about the blue cheese. I like to use a more mild blue cheese like a Gorgonzola but go ahead and use something more pungent, like a Cabrales or Saint Agur, if you’re up to it.
2 medium Delicata squash
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound fresh whole wheat pizza dough
1/3 cup grated Pecorino (about 1 ounce)
4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Heat oven to 450°F and arrange and a rack in the middle. Meanwhile, trim ends of squash, halve lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Place each half cut-side down and slice into 1 /4 -inch half moons (you should have about 4 cups).
Combine squash and shallots on a rimmed baking sheet, add 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt, and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reserve squash mixture. (Squash can be roasted off up to 1 day in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.) Wipe down baking sheet and return to oven.
Meanwhile divide dough into 4 pieces and roll two pieces each to an 8-inch round on a piece of parchment paper. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven (carefully because it will be very hot!) and work quickly. Drizzle the sheet with some olive oil, use the parchment paper to transfer 2 rounds of dough to the baking sheet, and pierce the dough in several places to prevent it from bubbling up unevenly. Scatter Pecorino evenly over the dough then evenly distribute squash mixture across pizza then scatter thyme leaves and blue cheese on top. Drizzle with a drizzle more oil and place in oven.
Bake until crust is crispy, cheese is melted, and underside of dough is golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve. Repeat to make two more pizzas. (If you have two rimmed baking sheets, go ahead and bake all the pizzas at once though they may take a few extra minutes.)