Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer Squash & Tomato Pizza

Sometimes you get a craving for pizza. Sometimes that craving takes you all the way to a neighborhood known as Dumbo, where you are inexplicably willing to stand outside in the heat waiting for half an hour to get into Grimaldi's Pizza for a sublime, no cheese pie with an utterly perfect coal-fired brick oven crust. Call it temporary insanity.

Crazy for Grimaldi's pizza.
Strangely enough, eating pizza this past weekend at Grimaldi's only made me crave more pizza. I wanted something different though, and this recipe I found in Food & Wine seemed like a good way to use up some of the zucchini that I had just bought at the farmer's market. I made a few changes - instead of yellow squash I used green zucchini, I made it on a pizza crust instead of puff pastry, and I substituted a vegan cream cheese for the goat cheese. The end result was really good, something between a pizza and a tart, and was filling without being heavy. Lots of great summer flavors in there, and perfect for when it's not too hot to turn your oven on for a half hour. Even though I made this using a store-bought pizza dough, I do think that this would also be really tasty using the puff pastry as directed in the original recipe. Just make sure to get a vegan (no-butter) brand if you decide to go the puff pastry route. The Pepperidge Farm brand is (accidentally) vegan and widely available.

Summer Squash & Tomato Pizza (adapted from this recipe)
serves 4

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound small yellow squash or zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 Tbsp. prepared pesto* (see note on pesto at bottom)
8 oz. plain vegan cream cheese, softened
1 batch of store-bought pizza dough
1 plum tomato, very thinly sliced
8 small pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
fresh basil, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the squash and onion and season with salt and white pepper. Cover and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash and onion are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a strainer and press lightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend the pesto* with the vegan cream cheese. 

3. Press your pizza dough out evenly on your baking sheet. Spread the pesto cream cheese all over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Top with the squash mixture. Arrange the tomato slices on top of the squash and sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bottom is completely cooked through. Sprinkle with the olives and fresh basil, cut into squares and serve right away.

Spread the pesto cream cheese over your pizza dough.

Arrange squash or zucchini mixture on top of cream cheese.
Arrange tomato slices on top (this pic was taken after baking).
Close up of all the good stuff.
Cut into slices and enjoy!
*Note on pesto: It is nearly impossible to find prepared pesto that doesn't contain cheese, and since this recipe calls for such a small amount I didn't want to include an entire recipe for pesto here. I whipped up a very small batch of it in my food processor using about a 1/2 cup of tightly packed basil leaves, about a half teaspoon of vegan parmesan, one garlic clove, and drizzled olive oil while it was running until the pesto reached the consistency I was happy with. I know this isn't a real recipe for pesto, but I just kind of improvised it, and I think you can too. I have faith in you.


  1. You outdid yourself on this one - It's beautiful!!

  2. Wow, this is beautiful! I love the veggies!

  3. I never thought to add squash to pizza - but the pictures look so good - I have to try!

  4. soooo i made this last week... this is going to sound silly but i have like a pound of pesto i made w/ my basil plant the other week b/c we had our first freeze and i was about to lose it. i had remembered your note about it not being worth "preparing" pesto for this recipe, so i went back in teh blog and found this recipe and decided, hey it's not really summer anymore, but i can make this work (since i already have the least important ingredient on hand haha:)). i made my own dough so it wasn't as perfectly rectangular, but it turned out deelish! the zukes i bought weren't that good b/c it's fall now... shoulda used butternut or something, but was deelish! thanks for the idea :)