While I had made a version of this pizza before, this recipe re-do was actually inspired by a delicious pizza that I tried at Stella Barra Pizzeria here in Chicago. Their butternut squash pizza is rich and savory with bacon, fresh herbs, and taleggio cheese. The ingredient that packs a punch though, is the addition of thinly sliced fresno chiles. These little pepper slices really added some heat to this pizza and I knew that when I made my version, the peppers needed to be included. I couldn't find fresno chiles at my grocery store-- which I would have preferred for their beautiful bright red color-- so I used a jalapeno and it worked just fine.
The flavor combination on this pizza is so amazing. Sweet squash and caramelized onions, those spicy pepper slices, salty pancetta, two rich cheeses, and fresh sage which really complements the squash and gives this pizza a quintessentially "fall" flavor. I made this pizza on a Friday night after a long week of travel and it was the perfect dinner for a chilly Chicago night in (after a return from sunny Florida) with my husband and a glass of wine. I couldn't get enough of this pizza and was so happy to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Alex isn't a squash fan, so I made a version for him sans squash and with extra pancetta and peppers.
- 12 oz. fresh pizza dough, rolled out
- 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup butternut squash, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs. Jalapeno or fresno chiles, very thinly sliced
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 10-12 fresh sage leaves
Spray or brush 1/2 Tbs. olive oil on surface of pizza dough rolled out on parchment paper. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the top and bottom off a medium butternut squash and use a sharp knife to carefully peel off the skin. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside. Discard seeds and membranes.
Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine diced squash with 2 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss until well coated and then spread out on a large baking sheet.
Roast for 25-30 minutes until squash begins to caramelize and is fork tender.
Bring oven heat up to 450 degrees.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium heat and add butter and remaining olive oil. Once melted, add onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft and slightly browned, about 20 minutes.
Separately, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta to the pan and cook, stirring frequently. Cook for 5-7 minutes until pancetta is crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Arrange squash, onions, and pepper rings on top and sprinkle pancetta over the top. Top with mozzarella slices and arrange sage leaves evenly over the pizza. Bake on pizza stone at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted and begins to brown. Remove, cool for 5 minutes, slice, and serve.