When I look back on my most memorable meals, they always took place in the context of an unforgettable life moment. I fondly recall being surrounded by amazing people, great conversation, good music, and of course, pizza. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or sports game, for me, the best parties have happened with a pizza (or ten) at the center of the action.

Pizza is a celebratory food, plain and simple.

There’s something about a good pizza that bonds people together. Plus, these days there’s a topping combo and specialty crust to please just about everyone. This comfort food knows no bounds, and we’re spoiled with options from cauliflower crust to cheese-stuffed dough to even dessert pizzas. Not only do they make a delicious meal on their own, these giant snacks are one of the best potluck contributions around. So how should we celebrate fall’s welcome? With a butternut squash pizza, of course.

Every time the seasons change, I look forward to the butternut squash pizza at True Food Kitchen. Lucky for me, it keeps coming back every year. I felt inspired to recreate my own version at home to celebrate my sister’s homecoming to Austin, and our first dinner together as official roommates. The True Foods version features almond ricotta and butternut squash as well, but they also top theirs with dried cranberries and warm kale. For my own toppings, I subbed the cranberries for bacon bits, and swapped the kale for arugula to add a peppery bite.

As for the crust, your call! I like to leave it to the pros. If you’re a dough aficionado then I’m all for starting from scratch, but when you don’t have to worry about the crust, dinner can be oven-to-table in 30 minutes or less.  Plus, pizza crust can be a very polarizing topic, so I’m not here to tell you if thin-and-crispy or thick-and-fluffy is the way to go here. I used a pre-made dough from Whole Foods that was easy to roll out and prepare for half of my crew, and made a second pizza on a prepared cauliflower crust for myself and my gluten-free friends. Both crusts held up great with all of the toppings, and the taste also delivered.

Like I said, in 2020 there’s a pizza for everyone. With options for every allergy and dietary preference out there, it’s no secret now that pizza can still be delicious without the dairy. This homemade almond ricotta serves as the creamy, tangy base of this pizza, and this recipe by Minimalist Baker was incredibly easy to make with only 5 ingredients. Just add it all to a blender or food processor, and you’ll get a smooth, delicious cheese-like spread that you’ll want to eat by the spoonful.

With its rich golden color and sweet, buttery flavor, the squash is the MVP of this recipe. When it’s roasted beforehand and reaches that ideal golden brown color, butternut squash is a perfect topping for any pizza that’s both delicious and pretty. The caramelized red onion also brings color and sweetness to this pie, and bacon added smokiness and protein to the pizza.

The greens turn this comfort food into a full-blown plant-packed meal. I love arugula for it’s sharp, peppery flavor and it perfectly balances the sweetness of the other toppings on every slice. Since this pizza doesn’t have any sauce, I added a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze to finish it off. Adding some crushed red pepper and fresh oregano brings the flavors in this pie to the next level. 

Pro tip: prep the roasted squash and almond ricotta spread ahead of time in order to get dinner on the table quick. Regardless, you’ll have dinner ready in less than an hour and it serves about 4 people (depending on how hungry you are). This pizza also keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days, and would make a great lunch if you’ve got leftovers (but let’s face it, you won’t.) I hope you enjoy this fall favorite as much as we did!

Butternut Squash Pizza With Arugula & Almond Ricotta

Serves 4

Butternut squash, red onion, bacon and almond ricotta topped with wilted arugula make this pizza a sweet and savory fall favorite.

By Michelle Nash
Prep

30 minutes

Cook

40 minutes

Categories

dairy-free


Ingredients

for the flatbread: 

  • 1 store-bought pizza dough or prepared crust of choice
  • 1 whole butternut squash, sliced into half moon shapes
  • 4 oz bacon
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • balsamic glaze
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

for the almond ricotta: 

  • 2 cups slivered blanched almonds
  • 2-3 tsp nutritional yeast (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 dash garlic powder
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh basil, oregano, or parsley (optional)

Ricotta recipe via minimalist baker.


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and slice the butternut squash (removing the seeds) into thin 1/2 inch half-moon shapes and place on a lined baking tray.
  2. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and top with salt and pepper and roast for about 40 minutes, until it's slightly browning on the edges.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a pan on medium heat and cook 4 slices of bacon on each side for about 5 mins. Allow the bacon to cool, and then slice or break into small 1 cm pieces.
  4. In the same pan on low heat, add another 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauteé the red onion slices for about 10-12 minutes until caramelized. Set aside.
  5. For the almond ricotta, add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor (adding the water gradually) and blend until smooth and creamy. Add in fresh basil, oregano or parsley to taste (optional).
  6. Roll out your pizza dough and follow instructions for prepping. (some require baking the dough or crust in the oven before adding toppings)
  7. When you're ready to add the toppings, spread the almond ricotta across the whole crust. Top with the butternut squash pieces, caramelized onion, and bacon bits until spread evenly across.
  8. Bake pizza in the oven until the crust is slightly browned (usually 15-25 min depending on your crust).
  9. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of arugula, 1 tbs olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss arugula until evenly coated.
  10. When the pizza is done, top it with the arugula, salt & pepper, fresh oregano, and a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze. Add red pepper flakes for additional flavor and enjoy!
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