I am often accused of playing with my food, and sometimes the results are both delicious and beautiful. Squash blossoms, while difficult to find in the U.S. outside of home gardening or the occasional farmer’s market, are available in great abundance in Italy. Their flavor is floral but with a hint of mushrooms and squash. Their season is delicate and short-lived so be sure to have your recipes at the ready once the zucchini flowers start to blossom.
The recipe for ‘Stellina Pizza’ is one that I am particularly proud of, as it combines my love of food, my passion for art, my deep rooted desire to play with my food AND a very special pizza dough recipe from a good friend.
Admittedly, this recipe has a few steps to it but it is worth the effort. To save time, sauce can be made ahead of time and stored.
Be certain to read to the end of the recipe to ensure that all ingredients have been captured for:
– Pizza Dough (‘Homemade with Love Recipe’)
– Pizza Sauce
– Pizza Toppings
Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza
Blossom Prep 101
Note: If not using the squash blossoms right away, wrap in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Blossoms will keep well up to four days. Just before cooking, rip off the stems and remove the stamen.
To prepare the squash blossoms first remove the sepals around the base of the blossom, as these can be bitter. Trim off the stems of the blossom and cut a slit up on side of each blossom so that you can cut out the stamen in the center and discard it. Dip into a bowl of cold water and clean for dust and bugs.
The number of squash blossoms needed for the pizza will depend upon the shape of pizza. Round pizzas will require 6-8 blossoms. A rustic rectangular pizza will require double that amount per pizza.
While it is possible to do a quick fix and buy a pre-made pizza dough, fresh made dough will take your breath away. My good friend and author, Jennifer Perillo, is known for this very special pizza dough recipe. I couldn’t think of a better way to make this special dish any more special. This star studded pizza is dedicated to my Brooklyn star gazer.
Homemade Pizza Dough (reprinted from ‘Homemade with Love’ with permission from Jennifer Perillo and Running Press)
Pizza Dough Ingredients
3 cups unbleached bread flour
1- 1/2 tsps active dry yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp natural cane sugar
1 cup warm water
1 TBS olive oil
Pizza Dough Directions
In a deep bowl whisk together 2 cups of the flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir it together to form a wet, sticky dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining flour on to a clean counter or large cutting board. Scrape the dough out onto the board and knead in the flour until the dough is smooth and soft but not tacky or sticky (you may need more or less).
Lightly oil a deep glass or ceramic bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in volume (about 90 minutes).
Once the dough has risen, sprinkle some of the remaining flour, about 2 TBS, on your work surface. Turn the dough out and gently knead it once or twice to deflate. If you’re making one thick-crust (or deep-dish) pizza, place the dough back in the bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap again, and place back in a warm spot until doubled in volume once more (about 30 minutes). For two thin-crust pizzas, divide dough in half and let rise in separate oiled bowls.
Pizza Sauce Ingredients
28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes
2 TBS olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-1/2 tsps balsamic vinegar
3 TBS fresh basil, slivered
Pizza Sauce Directions
In a food processor or blender, puree the plum tomatoes with their juices and set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and then add the garlic. Saute until the sauce begins to change color. Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until just thickened. Remove from heat, add in basil and stir until well combined. Cool before using.
Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated up to four days or frozen for later use.
Pizza Topping Ingredients
12-16 squash blossoms (per pizza)
8-12 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
Pizza Assembly Directions
Preheat oven to 500°.
Flour the working surface. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece of the dough at a time, flatten it onto a greased 18×13-inch baking sheet. If it becomes difficult to manipulate, allow the dough to rest 5 minutes to enable the gluten to relax. Brush the dough with 2 tsps of olive oil Spoon 1/4 cup of the sauce onto the dough and spread it out evenly. Add additional sauce if needed. Allow at least a 1-inch dough at the rim.
Cut open the squash blossoms and fan out with the yellow tips of the flowers facing the edges of the pizza. Arrange blossoms onto the dough – I tend to like rustic rectangular pizza’s best. Place half of the cheese in the middle so it overlaps but does not cover any of the blossoms. Bake 12-18 minutes, until browned on the edges. Using a wide spatula, transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
The pizza dough is only one of Jennifer’s delicious recipes. Her book is bursting with page turning recipes that I adore (i.e. Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad). Be sure to pick up your copy by clicking on the link above… and then grab another one to gift to a friend. 😉