I love summer! I love the long summer nights when there’s still daylight at 8pm, I love the cool evening breeze that blows through the house, I love running sand between my fingers while I lie on the beach. I love the farmer’s markets chock-full of peaches, strawberries, zucchini, snap peas, and heirloom tomatoes. And I especially love taking these fresh market finds and turning them into the perfect summer meal.
I happened upon some lovely squash blossoms last Saturday at the farmer’s market within walking distance to my house. I was so excited when I saw them because they are one of those hard-to-find summer treats. Last year, I bought a bunch and fried them, unstuffed, then sprinkled them with a fresh grating of parmesan. During my visit to Italy last October, my friends and I picked up a couple bunches and did the same, this time stuffing them with a delicate homemade ricotta cheese that was so good it could make you shed a tear.
Here they are alongside a glass of 2 Euro wine in my friend’s tiny Italian kitchen:
Below is the stand at the outdoor market in Naples where we bought the squash blossoms. You can see them at the very bottom of the picture.
My intention was to fry them again because they are so delicious when prepared that way, but then I decided that I wanted their flavor to really shine, so I took a cue from Mozza Pizzeria and put them on a pizza.
Squash Blossom Pizza
-adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue #127
Makes 2 pizzas
- 4.5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1.5 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup pizza sauce, recipe below
- 30 squash blossoms, stemmed
- 8 oz. fresh, whole-milk mozzarella (packed in water), shredded
- In a bowl, combine 1.5 tsp. oil, yeast, sugar, salt, and 1 cup 115˚ water; let sit until foamy, 10–12 minutes. Stir in flour to make a dough. Transfer dough to a floured surface; knead until smooth, 8–10 minutes. Halve dough; roll each portion into a ball. Put balls on a floured baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit in a warm place until soft and tripled in size, 2–3 hours.
- Place a pizza stone on a rack in lower third of oven. Heat oven to 500˚ for 1 hour. Transfer 1 dough ball to a floured 16 1⁄2″ x 12 1⁄4″ piece parchment paper. Working from center, gently flatten dough with fingertips, leaving edges thicker than middle. Stretch dough to a 10″ diameter. Cover dough with a tea towel; let rest for 15 minutes. Brush edges with 2 tbsp. oil. Season dough with salt. Spread 1⁄2 cup pizza sauce over dough, leaving a 1″ border. Sprinkle half (4 oz.) of the mozzarella over the sauce. Arrange 15 squash blossoms over cheese in concentric circles. Transfer pizza (on paper) to stone; bake until golden brown, 10–14 minutes. Remove pizza with a spatula. drizzle with olive oil. Repeat to make 2 pizzas.
For the sauce: Put one 28-oz. can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes into the bowl of a food processor, along with 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. dried basil, 2 minced cloves garlic, and half a grated medium onion. Purée and season with salt and pepper.
The dough pictured above has not risen yet. After 2-3 hours (mine rose fully in 2) you will have dough balls tripled in size.
Using your hands, form them into two pizzas, each 10 inches in diameter. They don’t need to be perfect. In fact, I like the rustic look better! Be sure to form them on the parchment paper. You will be cooking the pizzas on the paper.
At this point, cover the formed pizzas with a towel and let them rest for 15 minutes. This creates a fluffier and chewier crust.
While you wait, prepare the squash blossoms by removing their stems with a sharp knife. Remove the stamen if it doesn’t come out with the stem.
When you’re ready to bake, top each pizza with 1/4 – 1/2 cup sauce, leaving a 1″ border. Sprinkle on the shredded mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is difficult to shred because it is so wet, but do your best. Or you could thinly slice it and place rounds of mozzarella on the pizza instead.
Place the squash blossoms around the pizza in concentric circles.
I saved a little cheese to sprinkle on the top of the blossoms. Brush the edges of the pizza liberally with olive oil.
Picking the parchment up from opposite corners, place one pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake for 14 minutes until the edges are a medium-dark brown. Don’t worry about cooking the pizza directly on the parchment. The parchment will brown but will not burn. This is such a fool-proof way to transfer pizza dough!!
The crust was unbelievably delicious.
Slice after slice (after slice, after slice, after slice…) was enjoyed with a couple of glasses of red table wine.
I have never made a pizza crust this incredible before. I kept letting out audible “mmmm-ing” noises and I think I even closed my eyes while I chewed. Never ever ever will I need another recipe for pizza crust.
Cooking it on the preheated pizza stone is a must because it really contributes to that crisp, chewy texture.
Next time I will use a different sauce. I should have known that I wouldn’t care for this recipe since I didn’t really care for it when I at this pizza at Mozza. I prefer a deeper, more richly flavored sauce that comes from some time on the stove.
The reason I opted for mozzarella instead of burrata was due in part to my dislike for the obscurely placed blobs of burrata (I prefer a more even distribution) and in part to my frugal ways. Burrata is not cheap! It runs about $8 for a half-pound at Whole Foods.
I am making this crust again later this week, topping it with different, more boyfriend-friendly toppings (not that Travis didn’t like it, but I think he needs something more masculine than flowers on his pizza!)
Oyyy! I need to stop drooling over pictures of pizza crust and get to the gym!
Please make this crust soon! It’s really that good. Really.