Tag Archive for 'Homemade with Love'

Squash Blossom Stellina Pizza – Food Is Art


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.

Stellina 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. 😉


Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad


Over a year ago Jennifer Perillo (AKA Jennie) came out to California to visit with her two daughters. Aside from the fact that we had a wonderful and memorable time together exploring the Marin Farmer’s Market and the City by way cable cars something really exciting happened. Jennie received a very important call – she had a book deal! In some small way my clock started ticking from that day forward. And as I proudly hold her book in my hands I can feel all of the hard work she put into “Homemade With Love”. I know what it takes to create a cookbook and how much of yourself you pour into this type of passion project. It is a wonderful accomplishment to her ability to dream coupled with her determination to see it to fruition. I am honored to be able to participate in this virtual pot-luck in support of my good friend Jennie and to be participating along with so many other wonderful foodies I admire.

There are so many wonderful recipes I’ve read >um, drooled over< and made from Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook that the most difficult task was deciding which recipe to share. I’ll be honest the Deep Chocolate Cupcakes, Chocolate Tres Leches Cake, Clementine Pistachio Crumb Muffins, Lentil Ricotta “Meatballs”, Pot of Mussels….you get the idea…were ALL in the running for my blog vote. I could list the entire book but I felt tempted with each page I turned to try another recipe.

I ultimately selected the Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad recipe because it was the very first one I tried and it really underscored for me the simple, fresh, and delicious flavors that is so true to Jennie’s cooking style. My entire family enjoyed this salad and I woke up thinking about it the next day, eager to prepare it for friends.

This recipe takes hardly any time to pull together and it is one that is guaranteed to impress.

Homemade with Love- Jennifer Perillo

Chickpea, Parmesan & Fennel Salad


1 TBS apple cider vinegar

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

sea salt

pepper, fresh ground

1/2 bulb of fennel, thickly sliced

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, torn into pieces

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup Marcona almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp lemon, zested

(my addition to this recipe)


In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil and lemon juice until well combined. Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Add the fennel, chickpeas, parsley, and cheese to the bowl. Toss together to combine.

To serve, spoon the salad onto a large platter, and sprinkle the almonds on top. If using, add lemon zest.

Time saver- The salad can be prepared up to an hour in advance. Allow to sit at room temperature, and it will marinade in the juices. Wait to add the almonds until serving so that they remain crunchy.



Graciously reprinted with permission from Jennifer Perillo and Running Press.

Need more of Jennie’s food?…you can buy her book on Amazon and you can check out these other great posts!

Flexing my Mussels in Jennie’s Kitchen from Ilina from Dirt and Noise

Food and Friends from Selfish MomBaking with my Kids from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom

Easy and Delicious from Homemade with Love from Selfish Mom

Bruschetta with Homemade Ricotta and Slow Roasted Tomatoes from Chefdruck: French Foodie Mom

Dude, I Made the Best Pizza Last Night from Kim of House of Prince

Food is Delicious When It’s Homemade from Kim of Hormone Colored Days

Homemade with Love from Jessica of Momma’s Gone City

Homemade with Love Lunch with Jennie from Toni of Food Just Sayin’

One of the photos from my Jennie archives…some other wonderful bloggers you might recognize: French Foodie Mom (Vanessa Druckman) and Savory Sweet Life (Alice Currah).

foodie blog girls