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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Squash, Blue Cheese, and Arugula Pizza with Figs

I love this pizza. I love everything about it - the sweetness of the figs, the tangy blue cheese, the crust that is crisp on the outside and tender inside. I love nutritious and tasty addition of squash and arugula that allows me to pretend that, even though it's pizza, it's really not that bad for me (silence, carb haters!). I love the way it makes just enough for a weeknight meal for two with leftovers for lunch the next day. I love the way it tastes fresh from the oven. I love the way it tastes when eaten cold, straight from the office fridge. I love how it brightens my day, even as I eat it hunched over my desk at work while trying, frantically, to meet a deadline. I love how it embodies everything I would have hated to eat as a child (moldy blue cheese, mushy squash, green stuff!) but now love because I've matured into a worldly, food-blogging sophisticate. My only issue with this pizza is that it's difficult to eat it while patting myself on the back for being a worldly, food-blogging sophisticate, it's really a two-hand or knife and fork pizza.

Makes 1 large pizza (about 6-8 slices)
Pizza Dough
1 cup warm water
1 package active yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
2 1/2 cups flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
1/2 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pizza Toppings
1/2 butternut squash (about 1 lb)
1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
olive oil
6 dried figs, roughly chopped (you can also use fresh if available)
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (goat cheese is also great)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups arugula
salt and pepper

Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup. Let stand for about 10 minutes until the mixture is frothy. Combine the flour, salt, yeast mixture, and olive oil in a large mixing blow and mix together until well combined. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball, adding more flour as needed. Cover the bowl of dough with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Peel the butternut squash and remove all the seeds. Slice the squash cross-wise into 1/4" thick pieces (the shape isn't important as long as they are evenly and thinly sliced). Arrange the squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Roast until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven up to 425F.

Punch down the pizza dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Gently spread the dough into whatever shape you like. I bake this on an oiled rectangular baking tray but you could also use a pizza stone.  Bake for 3-5 minutes, until the dough has stiffened and is slightly puffed up but not browned. Remove from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the squash slices, figs, and cheeses on the pizza dough and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and dough is golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with arugula and freshly ground pepper. I like to let the arugula wilt for a minute or two before slicing and serving.

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