If I were to make myself a birthday pizza, Squash blossom pizza would be it. I can’t imagine a prettier and sunnier looking pizza. It has everything I love, fresh edible flowers, soft and decadent cheese, and crispy bread all in one gorgeous pizza. Squash blossoms are a rare treat available only for a about a month in the summer when there is an abundance of male and female flowers on zucchini plants. The male flower is picked, leaving some to continue pollinating the female flowers to grow squash. Luckily my birthday falls during this time allowing me to indulge in one of mother nature’s seasonal gifts.
Squash Blossom Pizza
Unless you grow your own vegetables, finding squash blossoms is challenging. It is like going on a scavenger hunt but instead of knocking on the doors of strangers looking for a wire coat hanger to shape into a sculpture, you go from farmer to farmer looking for squash blossoms. Ask your favorite farm stand vender if they have squash blossoms and if they can sell some to you. Also, I recommend getting to the farmers market just as it opens pick out the squash blossoms before it gets too hot, or before they disappear. Fortunately, I was able to arrange to get these squash blossoms from Rochambeau Farm Stand, for which I am very grateful.
For a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza you will need around 12 squash blossoms. From my experience squash blossoms come in all different sizes so I recommend buying a few extras.
Preparing squash blossoms for this pizza is not difficult. All you need is to trim the stems off each blossom then cut the flower open and remove the stamen. Once the pizza dough is ready, arrange the open blossoms in two concentric circles to cover the pizza. The blossoms curl up somewhat but try to get them as close together as possible. The next time I make this pizza I will cut a few extra blossoms in sections, so I can fill the bare spots and get more blossoms per square inch.
Watch out for bees and other insects hiding inside the closed flowers. Once you cut open the flower, carefully inspect each flower and shake off the little critters.
Use store-bought fresh pizza dough from your favorite pizza parlor or buy the dough from the grocery. I hear Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods has delicious pizza dough for sale. My local family run grocer has good pizza dough as well, so look around they are usually found in the refrigerator aisle.
If you feel up to it, make pizza dough, but keep in mind some recipes require you start the process 4 days in advance. I have not posted a recipe yet, as I am still developing my pizza dough recipe. Developing a pizza dough recipe takes time and lots of practice so until then, I have tested pizza dough recipes from Serious Eats, or the 72 hour pizza dough with whole wheat flour in The Baking Steel Cookbook.
Cheese for Squash Blossom Pizza
Creamy burrata is recommended for squash blossom pizza. It pairs well with the tomato sauce and the squash blossoms. It is not too rich, and you add it after the pizza is done baking. If you cannot find burrata, look for any soft and creamy type of cheese like good quality fresh whole milk ricotta, goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella. The goat cheese I would add to the pizza after baking, but the ricotta and mozzarella I would arrange on the pizza before I place it in the oven.
A 10-inch pizza is a small pizza, often considered small enough for one serving. In good conscious, I cannot recommend one person eating 4 oz of burrata. It’s just not healthy to eat a quarter pound of cheese no matter how much you love burrata. If you want your pizza as a single serving, please dollop half the amount of cheese over the pie using 2 oz instead of 4.
Squash Blossom Pizza with Burrata
Use store-bought pizza dough enough for one 10-inch pizza (about 7.5 oz / 212 g in weight) or make your own pizza dough. Making your own pizza dough takes some advance planning as some recipes takes from 48- 72 hours to mature.
Makes one 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza and serves 1-2 people.
Use a quick, fresh tasting tomato sauce flavored with olive oil. See notes for a recipe.
- 10 – 12 fresh squash blossoms
- 1 fresh pizza dough portion for a 10-inch 25.5 cm pizza
- 1 TB 15 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for finishing the pizza
- Kosher Salt
- ¼ cup 75 ml fresh tomato sauce
- 4 oz 125 g burrata
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. This step allows the pizza dough to relax and come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 500°F / 260°C /Gas Mark 10 one hour before you want to cook the pizza. If you have a pizza stone, lower the rack at the bottom position and place the stone on the rack. If you have a baking steel, position the rack 6 inches (15 cm) under the broiler (top rack) and place the baking steel on the rack. Or, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat stone or steel in the oven.
If you have neither stone or steel, place a baking sheet pan upside down on top of the bottom rack, similar to the baking stone, and preheat.
If you do not have a pizza peel, reserve a sheet pan to the side of your work space and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Once the dough is shaped, you will assemble the pizza on the sheet pan instead of a peel.
Prepare the squash blossoms
Trim off the stems of each squash blossom and discard. Open each blossom by cutting down the side of each blossom with kitchen scissors then and cut away the stamen. Discard the stamens. Set aside.
Shape the dough
When you are ready to cook the pizza, assemble all the equipment and ingredients you need for the pizza. The peel, extra flour and some corn meal for the peel, and all pizza ingredients. Arrange them on either side of your work space, giving you plenty of space to shape and assemble the pizza, but still within arm’s reach.
Lightly flour your work surface and pizza peel, if using. Tip your pizza dough in the center of the floured work surface. Press down on the center of the dough ball and flatten to form a disk. Press near the edge of the dough with your fingertips, creating a rim border about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick around the pizza dough.
Hold your hands in a loose fist and drape the disk over the tops of your fists. Holding your fist in front of your body stretch out the dough and allow it to drape down over your hands. Move the pizza dough around in a circle to evenly shape the pizza dough. Stretch the dough from the outer rim with your thumbs, and from the weight of the dough draping over your fists.
When your dough stretches to a 10-inch diameter (25.5 cm) pizza, place it on your floured pizza peel or prepared sheet pan. Shake the pizza peel back and forth to see if the pizza dough will slide off the peel. If it sticks carefully add more flour or corn meal over the pizza peel by lifting up the edges of the pizza and dust the pizza peel. Do this around the pizza until the dough slides easily.
Assemble the pizza
Quickly assemble the pizza. Spoon the tomato sauce in the center of the pizza and spread it evenly over the surface leaving a one-inch (2.5 cm) border. Starting at the inside edge of your border, arrange the squash blossoms in an even and circular pattern around the pizza in two concentric circles. The exterior side of the blossom faces up. The tips of the flowers in the inner circle will overlap the stem end of the flowers in the outer circle. Place two blossoms over the center of the circle with the stem ends touching each other.
Shake the pizza peel to see if it is loose and will slide. If the pizza is sticking, carefully lift up the edges and dust with flour or corn meal until it easily slides.
Slide the pizza off the peel and position on the stone, steel or sheet pan. If you are not using a peel, place the sheet pan holding the pizza on top of your baking steel, stone, or upside down sheet pan.
To slide the pizza off the peel, position the pizza peel towards the back of the stone or steel. Give the peel a definitive shake, pulling your peel towards you. You want the pizza to slide off the peel with one good shake so don’t be timid about pulling the pizza peel towards you. One good jolt helps the pizza slide off and retain its shape. Pull the peel out of the oven then close the door and bake.
Bake in the oven until the crust is golden and crispy anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on your oven. Lift up the pizza with a large spatula and inspect the bottom crust. That should be golden as well. If you are using a Baking steel it may take less time. Use the time as guidelines because individual conditions vary. Half way through baking, Use a large BBQ spatula to rotate the pizza from front to back to ensure even cooking.
When done, remove the pizza from the oven and slice into quarters with a large and sharp chef knife or pizza cutter. Cut the burrata into 4 even sections and place in the middle of each pizza wedge. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. If you have good quality finishing extra virgin olive oil, use it here with a few grounds of fresh black pepper.
Nancy Silverton’s specifies a Passata di Pomodoro sauce for this pizza. It is made with 2- 28 oz (794 g) cans of whole plum tomatoes, a shy tablespoon of sugar, a shy tablespoon of Kosher salt, and ¼ cup (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil. The skins and seeds are removed from the tomatoes using a food mill, “passed through” as the name indicates. I do not have a food mill, so I just puréed the tomatoes and can liquid with an immersion blender after I removed the seeds. FYI, the brand SM whole plum tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes from California) have the skins already removed. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot and carefully add the tomato purée and the remaining ingredients. Simmer until it thickens. About 30 minutes.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Out of curiosity I wanted to know just how much pizza Americans eat. The information is a couple of years old, but according to an article in Food Network Dish, Americans eat over 6,000 slices of pizza over the course of their lifetime (Reiter, Amy FN Dish, News, 2015). 6,000 slices of pizza is difficult to imagine, but for some odd reason I thought it was more, Yet the other surprise is, according to The Pizza Joint, a pizza trivia website, pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza. I would have put money down that the Americans favorite pizza is cheese pizza, especially with extra cheese.
Four Cheese Pizza
In our household, if I bought pepperoni, my sons would devour every crumb of pepperoni pizza, so I should not be surprised at that statistic. Their next favorite is cheese pizza, especially our homemade Four Cheese Pizza. Globs of melted cheese oozing off pizza slices appeals to everyone’s inner cravings. I can just see the scramble to grab the first slice of cheese pizza hot out of the oven with the strings of melted cheese stretching away from the pizza pie. Ah, don’t you just want to scoop up all those stings of melted cheese and layer it on top of your slice?
I made this recipe with a blend of mozzarella cheese, Italian Fontina cheese, Asiago Cheese, and Romano Cheese. It is a nice blend of creamy good melting cheeses with harder sharp tasting cheeses for contrast. The mozzarella and fontina cheese get mixed together, then sprinkle a layer of grated Asiago over the top so it stands out. Once the pizza is done baking, I sprinkle finely grated Romano cheese over the top and watch it melt as it hits the hot cheesy surface.
The reason I add the Romano cheese after the pizza is done, is to prevent the Romano cheese from burning. Those crispy burnt layers of cheese taste great in a lasagna, but people like crispy pizza crust, not crispy cheese with their slice.
Putting it together
Just like my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, I did not include a pizza dough recipe. If you want to try your hand at making pizza dough, try Jim Lahey’s No Kneed Pizza Dough. Or, try this pizza dough recipe from The Kitchn. I have yet to test this recipe so please let me know how you like it.
The down side to making pizza dough is, it requires advance planning in order for it to get done in time. Yet there is a reasonable alternative, buy a store made pizza dough. This makes Friday night pizza more doable.
The cheese pizza recipe has a quick tomato sauce with lots of garlic and fresh basil. It is easy to make while you are waiting for the oven to preheat and the dough to come up to room temperature. All that is left to do is grate the cheese. For more detailed information about making pizza and special equipment please read my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, (linked above).
Four Cheese Pizza
A delicious cheese pizza made with a blend of mozzarella, Italian Fontina, Asiago, and Romano cheeses. The mozzarella and Fontina cheeses have a creamy base and are good melting cheeses, while the Asiago and Romano cheese provide a sharp contrast and make all the cheeses pop.
Garnish with fresh basil and red pepper flakes.
Makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. For a larger pizza adjust the ingredient proportions as needed.
- 1 14.5 oz (411 g) can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar
- 6 leaves basil chiffonade sliced
- 1 7 oz (200 g) Pizza Dough
- 3 TB (45 ml) Tomato Sauce
- 3 oz (75 g) grated low moisture mozzarella
- 2 oz (50 g) grated Italian Fontina cheese
- 1 oz (25 g) grated Asiago cheese
- ½ oz (15 g) grated Romano cheese
- Fresh Basil leaves for garnish
One hour before you want to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500°F 250°C/ Gas mark 8
If you are using a pizza steel or stone, place it on a rack according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Place the pizza dough on the counter and rest for one hour before baking.
Mix together the grated mozzarella and Fontina cheese and set aside. Keep the Asiago and Romano cheeses separate.
Make the tomato sauce
Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and remove the core over the strainer. Place the tomato halves into another bowl. Press out the juices from the seeds and core pieces in the strainer. Pour the tomato juice in the bowl with the tomatoes and blend with an immersion blender or add to a blender. Process until smooth.
In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and heat until shy of smoking. Add the minced garlic to the sauce pan, aiming away from the hot spot in your pan. Cook for a minute then add the puréed tomatoes. Turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for one two minutes. Add the salt sugar and half the basil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining fresh basil. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for two days.
Assemble the pizza
When it is time to bake your pizza, sprinkle some flour over a pizza peel and set aside. Or, place a piece of parchment paper over a rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spay with cooking oil on the parchment paper.
Flour your work surface and your hands and pour the pizza dough onto your surface. Press down on the dough with your fingertips and shape into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands, shaped in a loose fist. Let gravity and your thumbs stretch out the pizza dough to a 10-inch (25.5 cm) circle. Use your thumbs to stretch out the edge and rotate the dough around. Do not pull out from the center of the dough.
Place the dough on the prepared pizza peel or sheet pan. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel by shaking the peel back and forth. If it is sticking add more flour to the peel. If you have any holes, patch them up so the topping does not ooze out while baking.
Spread the tomato sauce in an even layer over the pizza dough, leaving an inch border around the pizza. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Sprinkle all the cheeses, except the Romano cheese, over the tomato sauce in an even layer. Shake the peel back and forth to make sure it is not sticking to the peel.
Bring the pizza on the peel over to the oven and aim toward the back of the baking stone or steel. (If you are using a sheet pan, just place it on the rack and bake). Slide the peel towards you and shake off the pizza so it slides onto the baking stone or steel.
Bake for 6 minutes, or until the pizza is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Half way through baking, turn the pizza from front to back for even baking.
Remove the pizza from the oven by using a spatula to slide it onto a pizza peel. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board or pizza pan. Sprinkle the Romano cheese and remaining fresh basil leaves over the pizza and serve immediately.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
We are a family of shrimp and pizza lovers and came up with a great way to combine the two, shrimp pizza. Shrimp is an unexpected pizza topping but it works, especially paired with basil pesto and thinly sliced asparagus. Additionally, this pizza recipe was a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables into my vegetable leery children.
Pizza night started as a family tradition when my husband began baking bread and learning about making sour dough starter. It was his weekend night thing to do with our sons. His pizzas spoiled us forever for once you taste good quality homemade pizza dough and pizza it is hard to go back to the usual.
Even though Joe is still baking bread with a starter, we took a break from making pizza on a weekly basis because it is just the two of us living at home. However. I want to change that because homemade pizza not only tastes incredible, but it is fun to do. I find whenever we make pizza for a crowd, our guests, either friends or family, love pitching in or watching the pizzas being made. Everyone hangs out in the kitchen and it is just one big happy, loving mess.
Pizza Dough for Shrimp Pizza
I do not have a dough recipe prepared for my shrimp pizza. I am still developing my pizza dough recipe and testing others to find an easy recipe with a little sour flavor and gets nice and crispy. Plus, my husband’s recipe is in the family archives and needs extra time to re-develop.
If you want to try your hand at making pizza try, Jim Lahey’s No Knead Pizza Dough. Although you need to make this at least a day in advance, it is relatively easy to make. I tested this recipe a couple of times and found it reliable, light crust with some crisp crunch. It shapes nicely and cooks up evenly.
Fortunately, it is easy to purchase pizza dough either at your favorite grocery store or a local pizza parlor. Some pizza parlors sell their pizza dough, so it is worth asking. We have a local family market that makes pizza and sells fresh pizza dough which is great for last minute homemade pizza cravings.
Special Equipment for Making Shrimp Pizza or any Pizza
If you are going to start making pizza, even if you use store-bought pizza dough, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that make pizza making easier. First, if you can only buy one item, I recommend buying a pizza peel. With a peel in hand, sliding a freshly prepared pizza onto a pizza stone or pizza steel is a breeze. Without one, you need a baking sheet, like a large cookie sheet or rimmed sheet pan and prepare the pizza directly on the pan.
Also, get a long-handled and wide spatula, like ones used for outdoor grilling. They help to safely slide the pizza around in the oven and onto the pizza peel. We have two spatulas, one being so old we can’t bear to throw it away. It is the perfect size and shape for bread and pizza baking, so we tape it up with aluminum tape to secure it. It still works, and we have yet to find a good replacement. Unfortunately, they just don’t make this shape and size any more.
Bench scrapers are nice to divide the dough in half, or scrape the dough out of the bowl, but they are not necessary.
However, if you want to get serious about making pizza, investing in a baking stone or baking steel is worth it. I also use mine when I bake pies, tarts and galettes. If they are too expensive, place a rimmed baking sheet pan upside down in the oven when you are preheating it. The surface will get very hot and do a similar job as the baking stone or steel does. Place a baking pan with the pizza on top of the upside down sheet pan, the large hot surface area helps crisp up your pizza crust and even browning on the bottom crust.
Pesto Shrimp Pizza
To make Pesto Shrimp Pizza, use my basil pesto recipe and smear a few table spoons of pesto over the surface of the pizza. You can make the pesto with or without the cheese as both options taste great.
I lightly season the peeled shrimp with Kosher salt, ground garlic and red pepper flakes. Because there is no acid added to the shrimp, the shrimp can marinate in the seasoning without getting mealy and starting to cook. I prefer granulated garlic because minced fresh garlic easily burns when cooked under such hot temperatures. Burnt garlic gets very bitter and I do not want that flavor dominating the pesto and the shrimp.
Honesty, the most difficult thing to do is slice the asparagus spears into thin strips. Feel free to cut them any way you prefer. I like my pizza vegetables to easily bite into without pulling off half the toppings or the whole thing at once. With the asparagus sliced thin they cook up quickly and are easy to bite into. You may also want to cut the asparagus sliced in half across the middle depending on how big your pizza is.
Once the pizza is baked, squeeze lemon juice over the top and add some Romano cheese and other garnishes. My pickled red onions add a nice touch to this pizza as well.
This recipe makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza, which if you follow Jim Lahey’s pizza dough recipe is one of the four dough balls from his recipe, about 7 oz (350 g) each. A 10-inch (25/5 cm) pie is a reasonable size for two normal persons, athletes and teenage boys count this pizza size as one serving.
Most pizza dough you buy in the store is larger and usually makes around a 12-inch (30.5 cm) or larger pizza. If you are using a store-bought dough, you will need to increase the toppings accordingly. Though, that is the beauty of homemade pizza, the only thing you must pay attention to exact measurements is for making the dough, everything else is easily adjusted to suit your style.
Enjoy your homemade pizza and please share your photos with me on my Facebook page or Instagram @lemonthymeandgigner.
Pesto Shrimp Pizza
Pizza night in a lot of fun, especially when you make one with shrimp and pesto. Extra vegetables, like thinly sliced asparagus and chopped marinated artichoke hearts add textural contrast and flavor to the pesto and the shrimp. Makes on 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza
Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly, so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto.
- Pizza Dough about 7 oz (200 g) for a 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza see blog post for recommendations
- Basil Pesto sauce 3 TB (35 g) depending on size of pizza
- 9 large shrimp about 5-6 oz (150 - 175 g)
- 2 TB divided Extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes.
- 6 asparagus spears
- 2 marinated artichoke hearts in oil
- Garnish with juice of half of lemon grated cheese, pickled red onion (optional), and fresh ground black pepper
Prepare the toppings
If using, follow the instructions for preheating your pizza stone or pizza steel. Preheat the oven at 500°F/ 250° C / Gas Mark 8 for one hour before baking the pizza.
Take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Let is rest on the counter in the container.
While the oven is preheating, prep the ingredients. Clean the shrimp and remove the shells and vein. Add the shrimp to a bowl then mix in a shy tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, ground dried garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix until the seasonings are well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Trim off the tough ends of each asparagus spear, about an inch and half from the bottom. Slice each spear lengthwise in half, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Place the asparagus on a plate and drizzle a light coating of olive oil , shy tablespoon, and a pinch of Kosher Salt over the asparagus and toss with our hands until the oil and salt are well incorporated. Set aside.
Cut the artichoke heart wedges, in half lengthwise and rough chop. Set aside.
Assemble the pizza
Sprinkle your pizza peel with flour and set aside. Or, if you do not own a pizza peel place a piece of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet, large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spray the parchment paper with oil spray.
Shape the dough. Sprinkle flour over your work surface so the dough does not stick and flour your hands. Pour out the dough and press down on the pizza dough with your fingertips to flatten and shape it into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands and stretch and shape the dough using gravity and your thumbs until the dough is about 10-inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. Don’t pull the dough but use both your thumbs to stretch out from the edge, not the center, and rotate the dough in a circle.
Drape the pizza dough on your prepared peel or pan, slide the peel back and forth to make sure the dough does not stick to the peel.
Spread the pesto evenly around the pizza leaving about an inch (2.5 cm) border. Sprinkle the asparagus evenly over the pizza, then the shrimp and finally add the artichoke hearts. While you are adding the toppings, repeat the slide test making sure the pizza dough is not sticking to the peel with the extra weight.
Bring the peel over the oven and insert the peel towards the back of the baking steel or stone. Encourage the pizza to slide off the peel and onto your pizza stone or steel, by moving the peel back and forth until you can slide the peel out while the pizza slides off. Bake for 6 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the crust is golden brown. Optional, half way through the baking turn the pizza around, front to back for even browning. The BBQ spatulas are perfect for this job. Always be careful not to touch the baking stone or steel. They are seriously hot, and you can get a nasty burn.
Remove the pizza from the oven by using long BBQ spatula, careful not to touch the steel or stone, and slide it onto the pizza peel.
Slide the pizza onto a metal serving platter or cutting board. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pizza then lightly sprinkle grated Romano cheese. Scatter a few slices of pickled red onion and grind fresh black pepper over the pizza. Cut into equal size wedges and serve immediately.
Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.