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An indoor (vegan) pizza

Summer is over friends. We have all pushed back the moment : we have been cold in summer clothes because we just did not feel ready to pull out the coats, we have eaten tomatoes in November, and we may even have listened to Donna Summer while drinking mojitos (okay that may be just me). But all the while, winter has been discreetly settling in, and the time has come.
Here, the first fires have been lit in the fireplace, my daughter is learning to hate socks one day at a time, and there’s a pot of hot tea on the stove at all hours.
But there is also lots to be happy about.
First, Christmas is around the corner, that means ginger cookies and corny songs are allowed for a month, yay ! There is plenty of melted cheese to be had to cheer yourself up and build that extra layer of fat to keep you warm for the next five months. There is gluwein. There are books to read by the fire. There is hot chocolate ! There are thick woolly socks and ugly-but-warm pyjamas. Actually, I love winter. It is a time for retreating slightly from the world and looking within, a time for calmness, for rest, and for comfort.
While summer has barbecues and picnics, winter has cosy family dinners over candlelit tables and I am glad both exist in turns.
So while a nice bonfire outside is always welcome, and bakings pizzas keeps you warm, there are also days when we simply feel like staying in (in the aforementioned ugly pyjamas). For those days, the Pizza Steel has become our go-to : it allows us to bake great pizza without lighting up the outdoor oven.
It is also perfect for making pizza on a weeknight, when the dark has already set in and the kids have to go to bed. As this has become somewhat of a weekly tradition here, I set to work on a pizza recipe that feels wintery, healthy, and something I feel good giving the kids every week.
It is vegan and delicious, with contrast between a creamy squash base, peppery and fresh rocket salad, sweet balsamic reduction, and crunchy toasted hazelnuts.
Feel free to make substitutions : a creamy celeriac puree can replace squash, grated fennel, mizuna or cress instead of rocket; walnuts or pecans for hazelnuts… I do recommend you make yourself a batch of the balsamic reduction though, as few things work as well in its place. Make more than needed and use it to drizzle on pastas, sautéed greens, or cheeses.

Come on baby light up that fire : put on your pyjamas, turn on the oven, get your inner Mariah Carey out and pour yourself some hot drink.
All I want for Christmas, is pizza.

2 pizza balls (use the Stadler Made pizza calculator and recipe, that’s what I do !)
1 squash, cubed (butternut is my favorite as it does not need peeling, but others can do)
2tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
100g hazelnuts
80g rocket salad
Fresh pepper (I like green pepper best, red is fun, but black will also work fine)

 

The balsamic reduction
500mL balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sugar (or better : maple syrup)

Start by making your balsamic reduction. Simply place your vinegar with your sugar over a medium heat and leave to reduce. Turn down the heat as soon as it starts to simmer. This should take about half an hour but if it’s your first time, here is a good way of knowing when it’s ready : place a plate in your fridge and drizzle some balsamic on the plate. It should quickly become syrupy and thick (like maple syrup) and not liquid. Taste it too to see if you like the flavor : it should be too acidic anymore. Turn off the heat and bottle once cool. It will keep for a few weeks easily as vinegar and sugar are both natural preservers.

The squash purée

You have two options here : steam or roast. Steaming is quick, light, where roasting takes a bit more time but gives a deeper sweet flavor. That’s what I did, of course. Simply cube your squash and place it on your oven tray with some olive oil (two tablespoons should do the trick) and a good sprinkle of salt. Any dry herbs suchs as sage, rosemary or thyme would be a welcome addition here too. Roast at 220°C for about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of your cubes. The squash should be soft with caramelized edges.

Using a blender or immersion blender, purée this. Taste and adjust : you could add salt, pepper, a bit of cream or milk to make it milder in taste. Set aside to cool.

Once your pizza dough is nearly ready to use, set your oven at its highest temperature with your Stadler Made Steel inside.Leave to heat for at least 30 minutes.

Use Pieter’s videos here if you are unfamiliar with how to stretch your dough ball. Spread some squash puree on your pizza base and place on the steel. During the time it takes to cook it, you can chop your hazelnuts, toss your rocket leaves in some olive oil, salt and pepper and put some music on.

Once the dough is puffed and slightly blackened, get the pizza out and add all the other ingredients : the chopped nuts, the rocket salad and drizzle your balsamic reduction on top.

Voilà !

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