June 29th, 2014
Squash blossoms have always epitomized the magic of summer to me. Like fireflies, they are quiet and fleeting – look away for a second and they disappear. That’s why, if I happen upon squash blossoms at the market, I rarely resist the urge to take them home – summer comes but once a year. Most recently, I found these beautiful pâtisson blossoms tucked away in a corner of a farmer’s stall, with their small squashes still attached, and had the idea to put them on a pizza.
I find that ricotta cheese combines very well with the subtle, flowery and pumpkin-like flavor of squash blossoms. In my cookbook, I have a recipe for Squash Blossom Ricotta Quiche, which happens to be one of my favorite dishes and photos in the whole book. I make my own goat milk ricotta cheese, which is a simple, satisfying process that everyone should try.
I generally prefer white pizza, as most pizza sauces are too salty for my taste. I thought the blossoms needed to be paired with some red, though, so I made my own pizza sauce, which was well worth the effort. The pizza crust is gluten free and vegan with the added bonus of shredded zucchini.
It has been an amazing two weeks since the release of The Vibrant Table, filled with wonderful news. First, PBS included the book in their list of this month’s best cookbooks. Then, we made it on Amazon’s list of Best Cookbooks of the Year, So Far, among nineteen outstanding authors. But most importantly, these past weeks have been filled with the kindest reader feedback that I could never even dream about. The best reward for all of the hard work and sleepless nights is to hear about you trying out and enjoying the recipes. If you are in fact one of those people, I would be forever grateful if you would leave a book review in order to help others make their choice.
Squash Blossom Pizza
for the tomato sauce
(makes about 2 cups)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves – minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
about 1 lb diced plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
to make the sauce
1. Warm olive oil in a deep pan over medium low heat. Add in garlic and oregano and let sweat for about a minute.
2. Increase the heat to medium. Add tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3 Reduce the heat to bring sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 90 minutes. Let cool.
for the crust (gluten free and vegan)
(makes one large pizza crust)
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoon almond milk – divided
1/2 teaspoon coconut sugar
1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoon ground chia or flax seeds
3/4 cup (105 g) buckwheat flour (I used sprouted homemade flour)
1/2 cup (60g) tapioca starch
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the blossoms
1 small zucchini – finely shredded (optional)
for the topping
tomato sauce from above
8-10 or more squash or zucchini blossoms
sliced baby squashes/zucchini – if attached to the blossoms
about 3/4 cup goat milk ricotta
to make the pizza
1. Warm 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of almond milk to 110 F (43C). Add in sugar and yeast, whisk together and leave for 10 minutes. The mixture should be very foamy.
2. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of almond milk with the ground chia seeds. Let sit for 10 minutes.
3. In a stand up mixer with a paddle attachment or a food processor, combine the yeasty mixture, chia gel and the rest of the ingredients. Mix until well combined into a runny dough.
4. If using shredded zucchini, transfer the dough into a mixing bowl. Squeeze the extra liquid out of the zucchini with your hands. Mix it into the pizza dough.
5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and oil it lightly. With a wet spoon, spread and shape your crust into an even thickness. Let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
6. Bake for 20 minutes (15 if without zucchini). Increase temperature to 400 F (200 C). Spread on the sauce (you don’t have to use all of it), arrange the blossoms, sliced squash (if using) and ricotta on top. Lightly brush the blossoms with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or a little longer until the edges are slightly golden.
7. Let cool slightly. Top with your favorite greens or sprouts/microgreens, slice and serve immediately.