Surplus Summer Squash? Make Pizza!
It’s August and I’ve been cooking zucchini and summer squash since the last frost of winter came and went. Sautéed. Puréed. Baked. Raw. You name it, I’ve cooked it. It’s about this time every summer that I start an endless search for new ways to prepare old ingredients.
I was recently inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s lovely summer squash pizza, but Deb’s formula doesn’t quite do it for me—I prefer a more substantial, less cracker-like crust, and a lighter, crisper topping. (Is the Smitten Kitchen Mafia going to come after me now?) In this version, I thinly slice the squash and zucchini, and layer them in a rough circle, on top of well-oiled dough. Then, I add just a touch of buttery, semi-soft cheese, and bake to well-browned perfection. The result is somewhere between Deb’s recipe and a Roman-style potato pizza—unique, summery, and well-balanced. And, when using pre-made dough (or freezing your own like the smart cookie you are), you can have this deliciousness in your mouth with very little effort at all. So! Next time life hands you squash, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Roman-Style Summer Squash Pizza
The key is this: Get all the moisture out of your squash. Salt it and let it sit if you have time; wring it between a clean dish towel if you’re in a rush. If you don’t get the water out, your pizza won’t brown as well.
This recipe also includes a homemade salsa verde, and you will have extra. Put it on your grilled cheese, in savory oatmeal, tossed with pasta, atop all types of meat and fish—the possibilities are endless.
Time: 50 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Serves: Here's the deal about pizza—portion means something different to everyone. Ben and I polished one of these off in a single sitting, but I've also split it with three other people along with a big salad. So, I am going to say 2–4 people, but really, only you can decide how much pizza is enough pizza.
Drink: Lambrusco is the ultimate pizza wine.
1. Preheat oven to 500F
2. Slice your squash into thin coins with a mandolin or a super-sharp knife.
Here’s the deal, I have cut myself with a mandolin twice and it’s not fun. I honestly still wince when I think about it. Use a guard. Be super careful. Don’t go too fast. And if you don’t have a mandolin, use your very sharpest knife.
3. Place summer squash in a colander, lightly sprinkle with salt, and let drain for 30 minutes.
If you’re strapped for time, you can squeeze as much moisture as possible from the squash with a clean dish rag. Just be careful to keep the squash’s shape.
4. Take your dough out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
30 minutes is the ideal time, but less is fine, too. It’s just more malleable at a warmer temp and easier to handle.
5. Make the salsa verde.
Finely chop the parsley and mix it with ½ cup of olive oil in a small bowl, then grate in garlic and shallot with a microplane. If you don’t have a microplane or grater, you can mince them both and add them in. Add a pinch of salt and few cracks of pepper and whisk well.
6. Toss squash in salsa verde.
One tablespoon at a time, until it’s coated with oil and heavily speckled with parsley. You will definitely have leftover salsa verde.
7. Form your dough
Put one tablespoon of oil on a sheet pan, smooth it over the entire pan with your hands, and then coat the dough.
Using your hands, stretch the dough out to roughly 16 inches on the sheet pan. Circle, square, oval, dinosaur—shape doesn’t matter. If the dough starts drying, add the rest of the oil to your hands and work it in.
8. Make-a your pizza
Starting in the middle, layer the squash in a tight spiral, moving outward until it hits the edge of the dough. Double up smaller pieces if there is squash leftover. Take the cheese and scatter evenly over the entire pizza.
9. Bake pizza for 20 minutes.
It’s done when it’s delightfully brown and the cheese is bubbling.
Salt, pepper, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, hot sauce—however you like your pizza, go at it!
Um, excuse me?
What makes this pizza “Roman” style?
The olive oil. Roman dough has olive oil in it, which gives the dough more weight and crispness. Neapolitan pizza doesn’t have any olive oil in it at all.
Can I use a different cheese?
You betcha. We had Havarti—a mellow, buttery, semi-soft, Danish cheese. However, you could easily replace it with low-moisture mozzarella, stracchino, provolone, or skip the cheese all together.
Help! My Pizza is burning!
Turn down your oven! Try 475F or 450F and add another couple of minutes to your cook time.
What kind of dough should I use?
There is nothing wrong with store-bought dough. That being said, not all dough is made the same. For example, I used to use Trader Joe’s dough when I first started making pizza, and now that I have switched to Seattle’s own Essential Baking—there is no going back.
It’s also incredibly fun—and rewarding—to make your own. Here are a few to try:
Smitten Kitchen's Lazy Pizza Dough
Martha’s Basic Pizza Dough
Roberta’s Pizza Dough
Joe Heffernan’s Pizza Dough
Can I use other veggies?
Sure! Why not? Thinly sliced potatoes or sweet potatoes would be good—or a spiral of mushrooms. However, the preparation will be different for any vegetable that doesn’t have the same moisture content as summer squash.