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Kitchen Adventures: Sage advice for fall pizza

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Food column by Becca Owsley

By Becca Owsley

Sometimes, you learn a little about yourself when trying a new dish. On this kitchen adventure, I learned two things.

One, there is such a thing as too much sage. Two, I’m not a fan of goat cheese.

Because fall is my favorite time of year, a pizza with a harvest theme sounded like a good thing to try.

To keep costs down, I altered the recipe.

The recipe called for butternut squash. Of course, the week I decide to make the dish butternut squash cost $2.99 a pound and weighed three pounds. It quickly was placed back on the shelf but the neighboring produce, acorn squash, not only cost less per pound but weighed less.

Turns out, it was a good substitute that still gave a yellowish tone to the pizza toppings.

Any type of pizza dough will work but for a quick fix I used already made crust from the pasta aisle. It was a perfect fit with a nice raised edge. You can choose any pizza crust recipe or use frozen pizza dough, too.

Instead of making one big pizza, I made three smaller ones.

When cooking the squash, it didn’t take as long to cook as the recipe suggested. The first 10 minutes was plenty of time to cook the squash to the desired texture.

Pesto, for me, is best when it is basil or sun-dried tomato-based. Usually, I only use sage in small doses as a spice and using it as the base of a pesto resulted in a very strong taste. After trying the pesto on the pizza, I discovered I am not a fan of using large amounts of sage. It seemed to overpower the other flavors more than a basil-based pesto does.

Also, 8 ounces of goat cheese is way too much. I used a much smaller amount and it was plenty.

Instead of using torn prosciutto, I found a package of chopped, cubed prosciutto that seemed just right for topping a pizza. 

The result was a beautiful pizza rich with fall colors.

If you’re a fan of sage or goat cheese, this is a recipe for you because they are the two dominant flavors.

It is something I probably will make again but will tinker with the pesto, making it with much less sage or with something else entirely. And, after discovering I am not a fan, I’ll probably leave off the goat cheese or use a lot less of it.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Harvest Pizza

  • 1 batch of your favorite pizza dough
  • 2/3 cup fresh sage leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 3- 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups tiny-cubed butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto, torn
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, sliced and crumbled

Prepare pizza dough and let rise.

While dough is rising, combine sage, pine nuts and finely grated parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until combined. Stream in olive oil and blend until a pesto forms and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon butter (feel free to brown it first). Toss in butternut squash cubes, along with salt, pepper and nutmeg, tossing to coat. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stir, and then let cook for 5-10 minutes more, just so the cubes are softened but not complete mush. Set aside. In the same skillet, add another 1/2 tablespoon of butter and onions with a pinch of salt. Cover and let caramelize for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. To help the prosciutto crisp in the oven, you also can briefly cook it in a skillet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Once dough has risen and you are ready to assemble pizza, spread 2-3 tablespoons of pesto all over dough. Top with half of the grated parmesan, then spread butternut squash evenly. Add the onions next. Top with torn prosciutto pieces, then strategically place goat cheese over the pizza. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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