Little whispers and hums of fall are making themselves heard around my neck of the woods. Our apple tree is heaving with fruit, waiting to go ripe. Cooler temperatures are a delight with the windows wide open at night. More importantly, cravings for warming, cooked food are working their way back into our lives. As nature turns and shifts, our bodies and senses abide. The season is new and we approach nourishment with a fresh perspective as well.
Despite the turning leaves, I still love to cook on the grill. The smoky char that it imparts to food is well suited to the fruits of fall. This flatbread takes a bit of preparation, but it makes an incredibly satisfying, healthy and beautiful dinner. It's perfect to enjoy in the crisp evenings with a bit of wine, maybe wrapped up in a cozy sweater or blanket outdoors as the day shifts to night.
This wasn't a totally planned combination from the start. I was busying myself with the task of trying to figure out a dessert recipe, failed, got frustrated, abandoned that project and got to work on something for dinner. I had read about a quick and fuss-free pizza dough recipe earlier in the week and got to work.
The spelt flour that I used for the dough makes a hearty whole grain base while roasted butternut squash and garlic is pureed into a spreadable, vitamin-rich sauce. I love basil with squash so I made a pesto out of the huge bunches of basil we pulled from the gardens and a crunchy topping of lemony radicchio slaw.
Dough recipe adapted from The Faux Martha
Notes: You could use arugula, endive or whatever greens you like in place of the radicchio. If you don’t have a barbecue, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and put everything on the pizza except the radicchio mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes. Also, advice on grilling pizza: have everything at the ready when you’re making it. The whole process moves really quickly.
1 small butternut squash, cut in half and seeds removed
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 sprigs sage (optional)
salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pesto (there will be some leftover!):
1 cup basil leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup warm water (not too hot!)
1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 3/4 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup light spelt flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 head radicchio, outer leaves removed, cored and sliced
4 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves finely sliced
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, peeled, halved and finely sliced
small handful of pine nuts, toasted
Roast the squash: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Season and place the squash halves face down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In the little cavity where the seeds were, sneak the garlic cloves underneath. If using the sage, place the whole sprig under the flesh of the squash. Roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh into a bowl. Squeeze garlic cloves out of their peels into the bowl as well. Add oil, salt, pepper and a splash of water. Stir and mash with a spatula until smooth. Set aside.
Make the pesto: place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is broken up a bit. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a spatula. Put the processor on high until a paste starts to form. Scrape down the sides again. Let it rip one more time until it’s super smooth. Season to taste. Scrape into a bowl and put a dab of oil on top to prevent discolouration. Set aside.
Make the dough: pour the water into a large bowl. Add the yeast, agave and oil. Whisk to combine. Let the yeast proof for about five minutes or until you see bubbles forming on the surface. Add the flours and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until combine. Knead with your hands until you have a smooth lump of dough.
Make the slaw: combine all of the ingredients radicchio, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper as close to serving time as possible. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Make the pizza! Get your barbecue going to a medium-medium high flame. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness on a floured cutting board, pizza peel or anything flat that you can bring out to the barbecue. Brush one side with oil completely. Either flip or gently guide the oiled side onto the grates (you can oil the grates as an extra non-stick insurance policy). Brush the top, now-exposed side of the dough with oil and put the lid down. Wait about 3-5 minutes.
The dough should be browning and getting grill marks on one side and bubbling through on the surface. Flip it over with a large spatula. Spread the butternut squash and garlic mixture evenly onto the browned side of crust. Dollop the pesto on top and sprinkle the shallots on. Put the lid down and wait another 5-6 minutes before removing the pizza.
Place pizza on serving plate/large cutting board and top with the radicchio slaw. Sprinkle with pine nuts, cut into slices and serve.