So we may be eating organically and locally as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean all of our tastes have changed.  We still love pizza night – and since we started making it at home it’s become even more fun as we try to be a bit more adventurous than Papa John’s or Pizza Hut will allow.  This weekend we ate it twice in one day! (The freedom to eat pizza for lunch and dinner the same day is one of my favorite things about being an adult…)

We had our dear friends, Tim and Katie, over for our latest pizza experiment and they heartily approved, so I thought I’d share our discovery.  We adapted a butternut squash pasta sauce from Simply in Season to make the consistency more appropriate for pizza and moved the sausage from inside the pasta to the topping for our pizza.  The sauce takes a little time, but should make enough for several pizzas and freezes well.  The sweet and savory flavors ooze fall, in case you’re not feeling its presence yet.

If you’re skeptical or just don’t have time to make the sauce, we’ve also tried these toppings with basil pesto from the grocery store and it was extremely tasty, too!

First step is the dough – if you are intimidated by that, don’t be.  It takes 10 minutes and can be done anytime from the night before to one hour before you’re ready to cook your pizza.

Dough prep Stir 1 heaping TBSP yeast into 1 1/4 c warm water until dissolved.

1 c whole wheat flour
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt

If you have a kitchen aid, use your dough hook on the lowest setting for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is in one big clump.  If you’re kneading by hand, it takes 8-10 minutes.  Use a touch of olive oil to lightly grease the ball of dough and leave it in a bowl with a damp towel over the top till it doubles in size.  About an hour.  If you’re not using the dough right away, let it rise, then pop it in the fridge till you’re ready.

To make the sauce:

Peel, chop, and saute one medium-sized butternut squash until tender.  Puree and set aside.

Saute 1 diced yellow onion and 4 minced cloves of garlic 3-5 minutes until soft.

1 bay leaf
2 chopped fresh sage
1 c dry white wine (or chicken or veggie broth)

Cook a few minutes until half the liquid evaporates.

Add 1 c chicken or veggie broth and the pureed squash.  Stir until the sauce starts to bubble and reduce heat.

1/2 c evaporated milk
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for up to ten minutes until thickened.  If the consistency seems too chunky, puree the sauce and return to pot.  If you prefer, like we do, add a touch of heavy cream and cook until reduced to desired consistency.  We found that this recipe made four to five pizzas’ worth of sauce, and again, it freezes well for quick dinners later on.

To cook pizza:Butternut squash sauce

Roll out pizza dough on pizza stone or baking dish.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 for 5-8 minutes and remove.

Spread sauce onto pizza dough.  Top with grated mozzarella and other desired toppings.  Our favorites are chopped sage, chopped walnuts or browned Italian sausage, and some fresh-grated Parmesan.  This is when I like to brush a little olive oil on the crust for extra flavor and crunch.

Return to oven at 450 for another 5-8, until cheese or crust is just starting to brown.  Serve immediately.  With an Oktoberfest beer or white wine.  🙂

Half Walnut Half Sausage