Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pepperoni and Yellow Squash Pizza

Yes, you heard it here first folks. Pepperoni. And yellow squash. On a pizza.

This odd combo came to me as I was flipping through some zucchini recipes the other evening. I’d found a recipe for a zucchini flatbread that looked good and what is a flatbread anyhow except a pizza? So a substitute of pizza dough for the flatbread and a little tweaking of ingredients to fit what was hanging around in my pantry, this ended up making a pretty terrific pizza.

Pizza dough out of the freezer
I always have single serving size pizza dough in my freezer. It requires two hours to thaw a dough ball on the counter (during which time I mowed the lawn and went to a journalism class) and when I got home for my late dinner, the pizza dough was ready to use.

Normally, if you’ve contemplated pizza for dinner ahead of time, taking the dough from the freezer to the refrigerator in the morning (or even the night before) is the process so that you will have dough ready to use upon arriving home.

Pizza is a very creative dish. Anyone can put their own spin on a pizza to make it truly their own. Whether you’re grazing through the pantry to see what’s on hand or using a few simple ingredients from your garden, designing a pizza makes you feel a bit like Picasso.

This pizza was all about the squash that have been multiplying in my refrigerator. The whole wheat pizza dough I used made this a fairly healthy pizza. The pepperoni gave the squash some added flavor and I really think this would have been a dull pie without it, but substituting some red onion and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a little kick might accomplish the same effect.

My cheese drawer is generally full of a multitude of bits and pieces of cheeses, so picking out something appropriate was not difficult. I’ve found most people have shredded mozzarella in their refrigerators, so use that. If you don’t have goat cheese – well, go out and get some. Fresh goat cheese is a wonderful addition to your cheese drawer. It’s tangy and soft enough to crumble. I use goat cheese on salads and in omelets and now, on my pizza!

See below for a few words about baking pizza in a toaster oven.

Pepperoni and Yellow Squash Pizza

1 4-ounce pizza dough, ready to bake
3 tablespoons fresh goat cheese, crumbled
5-6 thin slices of yellow or green zucchini cut in half
5-6 pepperoni slices, cut in half
Drizzle of olive oil
2 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Sprinkle of California Seasoning (a blend of garlic powder and dried parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (or as high as it will go) with a pizza stone.

Prepare your dough and place on a pizza peel with enough cornmeal to allow the pizza to move easily on the peel.

Begin building your pizza. Add the goat cheese to the dough then add the zucchini and pepperoni.

Sprinkle with seasoning and salt and pepper. Add the mozzarella and then drizzle with olive oil.

Slide your pizza onto the preheated stone and bake 12-14 minutes.

A few encouraging words about baking pizza in your toaster oven. If you’re baking for one person (as I do), heating your regular oven to 500 degrees is a waste of energy, especially if you are baking thinner crust pizzas. A pizza takes less than 15 minutes to bake and the oven can take up to 30 minutes to heat to this high temperature.

I’ve discovered that if I put a small baking stone in my toaster oven and preheat at its highest temperature for about 20 minutes, I can achieve the same results with less energy expenditure. This is especially wonderful in these hot summer months when heating the big oven tends to heat the entire kitchen.

The pizza stones that I use in my big oven are six inches square and I have six of them in the big oven. My toaster oven will hold one of these and is the perfect size for my small, individual pizzas.

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