Butternut Squash, Kale and Cranberry Pizza (Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free)
I am such a sucker for creative pizza toppings. To me, pizza is nothing but a vehicle for an abundance of fresh, seasonal flavors. I love brussels sprouts on pizza; a drizzle of spicy honey atop a fresh mozzarella makes me literally squeal; pesto pizza is drool inducing.
This pizza is all about embracing winter, with a rich caramelized onion and butternut squash sauce layered with crispy, salty kale, a drizzle of sweet cranberry orange sauce. A sprinkling of slivered almonds adds the fatty depth and smooth texture of cheese, although a bit of parmesan would also be great on top of this if you’re not vegan (fun fact: I don’t tolerate dairy super well, but parmesan and other hard cheeses contain little to no lactose, the protein that’s irritating to most dairy-avoiders). Around this time of year, I often feel torn between my desire to eat hearty, filling, comforting meals, and the inevitable detox I crave after the holidays. This pizza splits the difference beautifully. It has shades of junk food – it is pizza, after all – but everything it contains is nourishing. Butternut squash is packed with Vitamin A, which becomes more bio-available through cooking, and kale, even though it’s reign as king superfood might be coming to an end, is still a nutrient-super star, with detoxifying chlorophyll and a megadose of Vitamin K. It’s also a cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli and cauliflower, which means it packs a potent punch of antioxidants and disease fighting phytochemicals. The cranberry sauce, with a kick of orange zest, is filled with Vitamin C – so good for fighting off the colds and flus that run rampant this time of year – while the almonds add healthy fats and skin-enriching Vitamin E.
I’m all about toppings, and this pizza works wonderfully regardless of what base you decide to use. I personally used a spelt flour version of Jim Lahey’s signature fermented pizza crust (which is super easy – you just mix everything together and let it sit overnight), and it worked beautifully, but I’ve also made this pizza with this almond flour crust and had wonderful results. Because someone will inevitably ask, my thoughts on cauliflower pizza crust are this: while I’m all about a healthy life, I’m also about a good one, and quite frankly, I’m too much of a foodie for cauliflower pizza crust. While I adore cauliflower and bringing out its wonderfully sweet, yielding characteristics in a recipe, as a pizza crust, I find it soggy, lacking in depth of flavor and bland (even when I add as many spices as I can). That said, if you love it, go for it! It’s your palette, your plate, your pizza!
- 2 cups butternut squash cut into 1” cubes
- 1 onion, rough chopped
- 2 tbsp high heat oil
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 1 12 oz bag cranberries
- Zest + juice of 1 orange (about 1 tsp and ½ cup)
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- Heat oil in medium pan with lid over medium-high. Add butternut squash and onions and sautee until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook until butternut squash can be easily pierced with fork, about 20 minutes. Transfer ingredients to food processor and process for 1 - 2 minutes or until smooth.
- In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, orange zest and juice, salt and coconut sugar to boil over medium heat. Add filtered water and boil for 10 minutes or until all cranberries have popped, then remove from heat and let cool before blending well.
- Toss kale with oil and salt until well-coated.
- To assemble pizza, prebake whatever pizza dough recipe you're using for 5 minutes, then remove from oven. Top with a thin layer of butternut squash sauce, then top with kale, a drizzle of cranberry sauce and a generous sprinkle of almonds. Return to oven for 5 more minutes, or until kale is crispy at the edges and almonds are just beginning to turn golden brown. Makes enough toppings for 4 personal sized pizzas.