These days, when we have a pizza night at Hancock Hall, the first pizza out of the oven is always a cheese pizza. This satisfies and squares away the kids so that the adults can relax a little bit and enjoy their drinks, the company, conversation and of course the pizza that makes these parties fun. Before the children though, it was always Summer Squash Pizza that kicked the party off.
Summer squash pizza is easy to prepare. It uses fresh ingredients and is as gorgeous to look at as it is delicious to eat. It's one of those pizzas that surprises people who might not usually try anything but your standard type of pizza. It's flavor is light, fresh and sweet and sure to convert those doubters to pizzas with this kind of topping.
Before we move on to constructing the delicious summer squash pizza below, allow me to address four primary ingredients that all but guarantee that you can make pizza at home that is as good or better than the average local shop. Get used to seeing these important "ingredients" because I am going to add them to every pizza recipe I write on Chop Onions, Boil Water. They are critical to your success.
Cornmeal: Cornmeal's tiny grains act like little ball bearings between flat surfaces. Spread cornmeal on the surface of what you build your pizza on and you'll be able to slide your masterpiece right off it and into your oven. Speaking of what you stretch your dough on, go get yourself a...
Pizza peel: Buy one, construct your pizza on it, use it to put your pizza in the oven, use it to take your pizza out of the oven. Seems like a small thing right? Try it! By the way, when you're using your peel to slide your pizza into your oven make sure your oven contains a...
Pizza Stone: Nothing is going to make your home pizza match or exceed the quality of the store bought stuff more than a pizza stone. Get a thick one and get a big one. I park mine right on the lowest rack of my oven and that is where it stays. It makes all the difference in the world and in no time you'll be pulling pizzas out of your oven that will make the thought of a store-bought pie a less-than-ideal option. The pizza stone is not going to work optimally though unless you...
Preheat your oven: Flat out, no joke, crank her up to 500°F and do that a full 45 minutes before you plan to sprinkle that peel with cornmeal, stretch that dough and then slide that pie onto that stone.
Summer Squash Pizza
1 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove (minced)
1 medium to large tomato (sliced thinly and drained in a colander)
1 medium summer squash (sliced thinly JUST BEFORE putting on the pizza)
Enough dough for one 14" to 16" pizza.
1 pinch of oregano
2 Tbs parmigiano-reggianno cheese (grated)
A good pizza cheese blend (shredded, should contain cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, asiago, fontina, etc.)
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil (lightly packed)
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Place the minced garlic in the tablespoon of olive oil and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or more.
Stretch the dough ball to a 14" to 16" disc and place it on your cornmealed peel. (I'm not going to go into dough stretching here because it is a learned thing and there are a variety of methods, each with its proponents, each for good reason. Do a little research and practice a bit. Don't plan on a perfectly round pizza all the time!)
Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of the garlic and olive oil mixture over the stretched dough, (if you don't need it all, that's okay).
Sprinkle the pinch of oregano over the stretched dough.
Sprinkle the parmigiano-reggianno evenly across the entire pizza.
Add the slices of the summer squash as one thin layer across the entire pizza.
Add the thin slices of drained tomato on top of the summer squash.
If you have any more of the olive oil and garlic mixture brush it over the tomatoes.
Distribute the shredded cheese blend over the pizza. It is important to remember to keep most of the cheese out of the middle of the pizza. As it melts it will tend to gather toward the middle anyway.
Place the pizza in the oven until the bottom is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly (8 to 12 minutes). Remove, let cool for a few minutes.
Add the cracked black pepper to taste.
Add the chopped basil and drizzle the pizza with some extra virgin olive oil, slice and and serve.