Okay, who loves squash? Yeah, I know, it's pretty tough not to. I love it too, especially since you can buy it when the mood strikes you and leave it sitting pretty on your counter until you need it (can I get a yes for no spoilage?), and it's pretty tasty & nutritious too. Yup, squash is awesome, and in most places, an easy to find local food.
A vegetable I don't often use though is fennel, as unless it's juiced, I've never really found it that appealing in taste or in texture until recently. I love that about food (and most anything), there seems to always be something new & amazing to discover, whether it's a cooking method, a new spice or any single ingredient. It's all a giant sprawling rabbit hole that really can keep going on forever so long as we decide to keep pushing forward, and it's never too late (never) to pick up again and start anew.
Pizza is always a popular food in this house, as it's always tasty (crust depending) , and will please everyone from all spectrums of the foodie eating pyramid. This past weekend saw my house filled with good friends and a spread of pizzas that were fun to create and delicious to eat, another of which I hope to share soon (vegan potato pesto pizza anyone?). To me, it's an easy crowd pleaser that breaks neither the bank to buy or my back to make. This pizza is a seriously yummy fall recipe that combines a few of my favorite things with a new guest veggie that is really growing on me. You could easily sub the fennel for onions or leeks, but I recommend this combo just as is.
On another note, I hope you guys are all having a fantastic week, as I've been putting out some feelers on some major growth that I'm planning to soldier bravely into. It's been great lately to tune in to the right things and tune out the old racket, and I'm loving every single darned minute of getting re-acquainted with myself and what's important. Thanks to my readers who wrote me after last week's post, it's always wonderful to hear from you all and I love that this blogging thing can do that. A most lovely community that feels close despite massive geographical distances. Pretty freaking rad isn't it?! Now I hope you guys are turning off your phones....or at least set it to Airplane Mode once in a while (a wicked trick that truly works).
Roasted Squash, Fennel & Thyme Pizza with Goat Cheese:
- (1) medium sized winter squash (ideally a kabocha or red curry, but butternut would work well too)
- (1) bulb fresh fennel
- (1-2) tbsp olive oil
- (2-3) sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
- (1) tsp salt
- (1) 113 gram package of goat cheese
- (1) pizza dough for one pizza (IPOM recipe here)
- olive oil for the pan
- extra fresh thyme & black pepper
Start by preparing the pizza dough (if making your own here is an easy to make recipe from my chef brother) well in advance, or if you are like me, make sure you have an option on hand from your favourite source (I'm partial to the frozen dough at La Grotta on Commercial or to Whole Foods dough for you Vancouverites).
To prep the veggies, heat the oven to 400 degrees and oil a large flat rimmed cookie tray. Peel, seed, and cut the squash into large chunks (about 1.5-2 inch pieces is good), keeping irregularities as this makes the finished product more organic. Measure out about 4/5 cups and reserve the rest for later. Trim the fennel bulb by topping the long tubes on the top off and setting them aside for later (a favorite juice recipe is here), and carefully slicing the butt end off the fennel.
Here is a handy guide for cutting fennelthat will help if you are first timer, but I like to cut the fennel lengthwise into long sections, separating where it naturally falls apart. You should end up with close to equal portions of squash & fennel.
Once the veggies are cleaned and cut, toss them with 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a mixing bowl along with the fresh thyme & salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until soft & browning, flipping gently here and there.
When the veggies are cooked, remove from the oven & allow to cool slightly and turn the oven down to 375 degrees. Prepare the pizza dough (it is best manipulated when allowed to come to room temperature for at least an hour) and lay it on a separate oiled pizza pan. Don't worry about rolling the dough or making a perfect circle, I always find it does what it wants and always tastes amazing. Besides, I like a little imperfection, it makes things more real ;)
Once the dough is ready, scatter the cooked vegetables over the crust and dot the veggies with the goat cheese, breaking it into clumps as you go. Bake in the oven until the crust is brown, about 25 minutes or so. Remove, and scatter with more fresh thyme leaves and additional olive oil & black pepper as desired. It's also a great idea to provide some balsamic crema as it adds a lovely touch to this meal as well.
Served with an abundant green salad, this perfectly nutritious fall pizza is sure to delight anyone who is new to these vegetables, and if you are a seasoned pro at using & consuming these two, then you are in for a treat. Just slice, serve & enjoy. I hope to be sharing another recent gem of a pizza recipe soon too, so stay tuned!