Butternut & Chile Pizza

Butternuet & Chile Pizza











Pizza?  Flatabread?  Flizza?  I don’t really know what the difference is between the two anymore.  I see plain “pizzas” topped with just rosemary, oil and salt and flatbreads piled high with sauces and topping.  I see square, round, oval and free form loaves of both.  As for this recipe, well, I don’t know what to call it – but I do know it’s delicious.

The other day I was out and about and saw a butternut squash and raddichio pizza.  I tried it.  I liked it.  I thought that maybe I could do better.

I bet you didn’t know that if you take a dried chile pepper, seed it, cut it up a bit and saute it in oil you get a wonderful, crunchy, slightly bitter, maybe spicy,  bit of savory-ness.  Well, you do.  I thought these would make a better foil to the sweet starch of butternut squash than raddichio.  I also thought the butternut could benefit from a bit of roasting to make the most of its texture and sweetness.  I added some cumin, to bring out some smokiness, and some toasted pine nuts because they’re fabulous.  I put it all together with a slow rising, cornmeal laced pizza dough.  The result?  Delicious, whether you call it pizza or flatbread, or even flizza.


Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 3  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive


  • 4 – 5 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into medium – large chunks (about 20 ounces)  Tip:  Yes – you can use store bought, pre-peeled squash.  Make sure you rinse it off and dry it thoroughly before roasting it.
  • 1 large onion, cut into sixths through the core or 2 small onions, quartered.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pines nuts, toasted
  • 3 5-6 inch guajillo chile peppers (or the dried chile pepper of your choice)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus a pinch for roasting the squash.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or more, depending on how much heat you like)

MAKE THE DOUGH (TIP:  You can, of course, substitute store-bought pizza dough ).

  1. Put the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for 5 minutes till it gets soft.
  2. Stir the yeast into the water.  Add one cup of the flour to the yeast mixture, and stir to mix. Then add the corn meal and another 1/2 cup of flour to the bowl and stir it another 100 times in the same direction.  This is your sponge.  Let it sit for about half an hour (or a bit more if you need it to).
  3. Add the salt and the oil to the sponge and, using a dough hook, start to mix the dough.  Add more flour, 1/2  cup at a time, until the dough isn’t really sticky – it should just be a bit tacky.  Mix at medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough smooths out.  TIP:  You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer.  Add the flour until you can’t stir it any more with a spoon, then turn it out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, sprinkling some more flour on if it gets too sticky to work with.
  4. Coat a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it.  Turn the dough over a few times so it’s coated in the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  5. At this point you can either let the dough rise for about three hours at room temperature, or place it in your fridge for a couple of days (it will rise slowly while it’s in there).  If you refrigerate it, bring it up to room temperature before using.


Roast the Squash (TIP:  You can roast the squash and onion ahead of time – refrigerate in a closed container until you’re ready for them).

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and pre-heat it to 450 degrees (F).
  2. Put the squash and onion in a roasting pan or sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer (or two pans if you don’t have one large enough).
  3. Coat the squash and onion and pan bottom with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a pinch of coarse salt.
  4. Roast for about 30-45 minutes, turning the veggies once or twice.  You want a lot of browning, but you don’t want them to be falling apart.
  5. Let the veggies cool, then separate the onion layers and cut the squash into 1/2 inch pieces.
  6. Set aside.

Fry the Chiles (TIP:  If you’re using hot chiles, wear gloves so that you don’t accidentally touch your eyes after getting the pepper’s oils all over your fingers)

  1. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise so you can seed them easily.  I use kitchen shears.
  2. Seed the peppers and cut or tear into pieces of about an inch or two.
  3. Saute the peppers in 2 tablespoons of olive oil just until they start to change color and crisp up.
  4. Set them aside.

Mix the Seasoning

  1. Mix one teaspoon coarse salt with the cumin and ground chipotle pepper.
  2. Set aside.


  1. Have your dough at room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F).
  3. Oil a 13 inch by 18 inch rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  (If you don’t have a large enough pan, you can divide the dough and make two loaves.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and roll it out a bit so it will fill the bottom of the pan.  You can also turn it out into the pan and push it around to flatten and spread it out so it fills the pan.
  5. Brush a bit of olive oil over the top of the dough.  Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap (so the dough doesn’t dry out), and let it rise at room temperature for about 30 – 45 minutes.
  6. Spread the squash chunks and the onions on the pizza.  Top with the pine nuts and the peppers, together with any oil leftover from sauteing the peppers.
  7. Sprinkle the spice mixture on top of the pizza.
  8. Let rise for about another half hour, until it fills the pan.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Turn the pan front to back and bake for another 10 minutes or until well browned.

Yield:  One 13 by 18 pan of delicious pizza.

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