Squash Blossom Pizza

Squash Blossom Pizza

May 24, 2010 · 49 comments

Do you think I’m pretentious? You can tell me. I can take it.

I met a reader the other day who told me I come off as pretentious, and she was happy to see I wasn’t. It got me thinking. What about my writing, my recipes, my voice, comes off as pretentious? Maria couldn’t put her finger on it either. But really, I’m not. At least I don’t think I am. Wait. Am I?

All of us so-called foodies have been accused of snobbery or pretentiousness at some time. Some of us deserve it– turning our noses up at meals under $50, refusing a sip of table wine, or constantly correcting people’s eating habits.

But most of us just care about what we eat. We care about the farmers who grow our food, the artisans who shape our cheese, the local businesses who carry small-label products. We wake up thinking about our next meal. Appreciating and discovering new flavors is a daily occurrence. We eat with friends, with family, and form a community around a table filled with food that was prepared with love.

How is that pretentious? If I pass on Popeye’s chicken because I have a local bird defrosting at home, does that make me a snob? And why is it so much easier for people to call us snobs, instead of those who are into music, shoes, cars or video games? Most epicures I know will go 5 years before buying a new pair of sneakers, because instead they buy Himalayan sea salt, or local olive oil, or asparagus ravioli. Instead of obsessing over video games, we wake up early on Sundays to start pizza dough or slow braise pork shoulder. We bike to the farmers’ market–yes, to conserve resources– but also because there’s dangerous-smelling mold growing in our cars, and the duct tape holding our rear bumper in place is about to give.

So if I’m pretentious, fine, I’ll take it. Especially if it means I don’t have to go with you to Burger King for lunch. I’d much rather have squash blossom pizza. Which, by the way, costs about the same as a value meal anyway.

Before I get to the recipe, I have some exciting news. Sorry about the delay this week, but Erin and I have been busy. We cooked three of our mac and cheeses for the judges of Oakland’s Eat Real festival, and we’re in! Gosh, now we have to prepare 2,000 portions of mac and cheese for the August festival. Have you been to Eat Real? It’s seriously awesome. The Little Mac website is also underway. And, our architects are hard at work, and we are closing on our building tomorrow. All good things, and all pointing to us to a November opening.

And finally–I’m published! Nick from Macheesmo put together an e-book called 55 Knives, and I’m in it (along with 54 other awesome food bloggers). Find stories, recipes and tips from many of your favorite food bloggers - buy it now for $14 – it’ll be $19 next week.

 Squash Blossom Pizza
(Makes two large pizzas)

Dough (adapted from Cooks Illustrated):
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour works too)
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

Toppings:
About 10 squash blossoms, rinsed, stems removed, and sliced in half lengthwise
3 large garlic cloves put through a press
Handful chopped parsley
12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used whole milk Belfiore – it’s slightly wet for pizza, but works really well with this recipe)
2 oz pecorino cheese, shredded
2 oz parmigiana-reggiano, shredded
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly crushed red pepper for garnish (optional)
Sea salt
 
Start the dough:
Measure 1/2 cup warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand until swollen, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups warm room-temperature water and oil.
Pulse flour and salt in a large food processor to combine (you can also mix the dough in a stand mixer). Pour the wet ingredients through the feed tube and continue to pulse until dough comes together. Process it for about 30 seconds, until smooth and elastic. Turn the dough onto a floured surface (it’ll be a little wet and tacky) and knead it a few times, until it shapes a round ball. Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Let it rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.Punch it down with your fist to deflate it, and divide it into 2 large pizzas. (If you have lots of time, try this NY Times recipe for dough).

Preheat your oven to 475F degrees, with a pizza stone inside.

Roll out the first pizza on a well-floured surface with a rolling pin (or empty wine bottle) until it’s the size of your stone. When I roll out dough, I start in the middle and roll outwards, turning the dough so it’s even on all sides.

Place pressed garlic into a small bowl and add olive oil to cover. Brush garlic and oil onto your dough. Spread half of sliced blossoms on top, and add half of your cheeses. Add a pinch of salt. Sprinkle on chopped parsley. Slide pizza onto your hot stone and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Drizzle on olive oil before serving, and have some freshly crushed red pepper on available on the side. Repeat with second pizza dough.

Stumble my pizza!

Where I shopped:
Squash blossoms, parsley, garlic: Berkeley’s Saturday Farmers’ Market
Belfiore mozzarella cheese, pecorino and parmigiana-reggiano: Berkeley Bowl

More ways to cook squash blossoms:
Squash blossoms and goat cheese galette
: Bon Vivant
Stuffed and fried squash blossoms: Saveur
Squash blossoms stuffed with basil: Sippity Sup

 

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{ 3 trackbacks }

the art of squash « the feral gardener
August 23, 2010 at 9:27 am
Seasonal Eats: Squash Blossoms | Foodzie Blog
August 5, 2011 at 8:09 am
Food For Thought Friday: In Season Now, Zucchini Blossoms | Neo-Homesteading
February 26, 2013 at 2:03 pm

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria May 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Well, I guess I am pretentious too then:) In a good way though:) The pizza looks amazing. Love the squash blossoms! Glad things are still on target for your November opening. So very exciting!

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Nicole May 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

I don’t think you come off as pretentious at all and I do stay away from blogs that come across that way. I recently received funny looks when I made 2 varieties of homemade hummus for a party, but I think that some people feel better about themselves and their food habits when they can make fun of someone that is selective about what they eat. Maybe not the reader that you met, but that seems to be my experience. It’s ok, though, I’m not going to apologize for liking good food :)

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Jessica @ How Sweet May 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Beautiful!

I certainly care about what I eat – but I would never think it was in a pretentious way, either.

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Dana May 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Having had the pleasure of spending time in your company, I can say you are one of the least pretentious people I know. And I don’t think you come across that way at all here. Maybe it’s the listing of where you get your ingredients? Some people may think that’s snobby because you aren’t just going to the grocery store. What – ever. Moving on. We get those gorgeous blossoms in our markets in the summer and I never know what to do with them. I don’t want to stuff and fry them so I just have never bought them. I can’t wait to try this! And congrats on the big news!

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Cleo Coyle May 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Gorgeous photos and recipe. Big congrats on your publication in 55 Knives. RE – the food snob thing — valid points all. I grew up helping my father grow his own vegetables and make his own wine; helping my mother and aunt (born in Italy) make dishes from scratch. My grandmother made her own bread every day in an outdoor oven. At that time, such things were far from fashionable or trendy – quite the opposite; this was looked down upon. Now such things are seen as the mark of a higher class of thinking about food. I applaud it (of course!). Yet so many households out there are still nuking their dinners and have no idea how to work their ovens. (And I have run into a few older women who think that any woman who spends time in her kitchen is retrograde and anti-feminist. Oy.) What I try to do is bridge that gap, encourage the unconverted to take that first step: turn on your oven, get out that bowl, find out what fun there is in cooking! Great topic for discussion – and great recipe to share. Thank you and congrats again, ~ Cleo

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Allison Lemons May 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Thanks Cleo! My grandmother says the same thing. When she and her mother and sister cooked hundreds of pounds of tomatoes into sauce in the backyard, it certainly wasn’t trendy. How times change…

It’s funny too how some women think being in the kitchen is a sign of anti-feminism. And I guess in the times of Betty Draper, it was. It also depends on why you are cooking. If it’s because your husband expects and demands it, well, that’s a different story.

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Cleo Coyle May 24, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Oh, excellent point about Betty Draper. (Love Mad Men – a fantastically shocking reminder of those awful days when women had few choices.) P.S. Hoping you can franchise Little Mac one day so I can enjoy your excellent recipes on *this* coast – in your old ‘hood!

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Danielle May 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

No, I don’t think you’re pretentious at all, but maybe that’s because I too care about where my food comes from and the people that produce/grow/breed it. If that’s a criteria for pretentiousness then there are far worse things to be pretentious about I say!

Congrats on the book, the festival and Little Mac! Glad to hear that everything’s falling into place for you and this pizza looks like the best way to celebrate the good news.

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Minnie April 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

In awe of that anwesr! Really cool!

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bethh May 24, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Anyone who is opening a restaurant named Little Mac in my neighborhood is all right by me! No, you don’t come across as pretentious to me. Maybe it is the list of where you bought your ingredients, but I really appreciate that information, so keep it up!

Yay for Eat Real! I volunteered at the beer tent last year – what a zoo!

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Allison Arevalo May 25, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Are you volunteering this year too? I loved the beer tent! It was especially fun on Friday night, before it got too crowded. We’re still trying to figure out how to cook all this food!

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maria May 24, 2010 at 7:10 pm

i never said pretentious! i said WASPY – which i’m sorry to offend anyone, to me only means she has a genteel quality to her writing, not at all snobby, not pretentious – and i was just happy to find she had a bit more edge to her than i imagined. i LOVE this blog, read it all the time, and i loved meeting Alison the other night! i was fortunate enough to get to try some of her and Erin’s mac-and-cheese (FANTASTIC!!!) and am so anticipating the opening of Little Mac. I truly respect her food ethos, and her apparent care and concern about what goes into her blog, her food, and what will go into her restaurant.

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Allison Lemons May 24, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Maria! I am so sorry! You are absolutely right, you did say waspy. Where I grew up, waspy pretty much meant pretentious, and that’s really what I thought you meant. Alejandro agrees with you, and said that he didn’t think waspy and pretentious meant the same thing at all.

You comment was really just a starting point for me, and made me think about the bad rap people get for caring about what they eat. And I came to the conclusion that I don’t care if it’s pretentious – because I know that’s what people think when I shy away from fast food lunches.

I’m sorry again Maria! I didn’t mean to misrepresent what you said. We had such a great time with you at Erin’s, and I hope to see you again soon!

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maria May 25, 2010 at 9:03 am

Please, no apologies necessary! I was mortified that you would think i thought something terrible like that of you! I was utterly charmed by you and your food. Ok, enough, we are good! Definitely will see you again soon. Maria.

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Monica May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Would that happen to be a Pampered Chef garlic press? And no, I don’t think you sound pretentious, although I agree with the other comments as to why others might think so.

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Janet May 25, 2010 at 8:34 am

You, pretentious? No way! (Or WASPy for that matter, heh). I’d say you are passionate about your food and where it comes from, which is the way things should be!

So excited about Eat Real! Whatever I can help with, let me know! :)

That pizza looks amazing. Gorgeous.

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Megan Gordon May 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

I smiled the whole time reading this…obviously you know my answer re: pretension (no), but I must say that around certain crowds I do play down my passion for more organic, local etc. Also always a wake-up call to travel to other regions of the country (I was just in Upstate New York, for example) where quite literally the only place to shop for food is Walmart. Thankfully I brought lots of granola bars :) But I know exactly what you’re saying and I guess I’ve just become more aware of how I voice my passion around certain less passionate crowds :)

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irene May 25, 2010 at 10:11 am

yum, i have to try this one. thanks :)

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Char April 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm

That’s the best awsner of all time! JMHO

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Charles G Thompson May 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Great post. Burger King vs. Squash Blossom Pizza? SBP every time & if that makes me a snob then so be it. I don’t find that pretentious at all! Good luck with all your endeavors.

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Ciaochowlinda May 25, 2010 at 6:14 pm

It’s not pretentious. It’s all about eating what’s delicious and healthy. This pizza is a great example. I used to eat a similar pizza from a bakery when I lived in Rome and you’ve inspired me to try it at home.

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Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen May 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Hah! Pretentious! I love it. No one has ever called me pretentious to my face, but I have heard so many times that “normal” people can’t afford to eat the way that I do…I say it is about priorities – and you have outlined those perfectly in this post! Now pass the pizza over here! Congrats on the book and the Eat Real festival!

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Magdalena May 26, 2010 at 2:04 am

Hello; no, you are not pretentious. But of course, there are some bloggers, who are pretentious, maybe not because of what they eat, but because of what they write…. and how they show their food…so maybe I am pretentious for some people…I don’t know….
I would like to try your pizza. Here, it is extremely difficult to find blossoms, practically I can enjoy them only in restaurants. It look very, very tasty. Have a nice day !

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sensiblecooking May 26, 2010 at 9:40 am

Well if that is the case every food lover who appreciate and promote local produce is pretentious. But the pizza looks great. Hopefully my squash and zucchini plants will give me some blossom this year. Otherwise I will have to wait for farmers market.

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Chez Us May 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

Allison,

You are not Pretentious! I feel your pain. I have been told the same thing. I don’t consider myself pretentious at all. I am not an Opus One wine drinker and would rather be eating at a taco truck then a 5 star restaurant; but, won’t turn down the opportunity if given to me. I would rather have good ingredients on the table then a new dress or $100 jeans! People don’t get it. Really, they don’t. But, they will turn around after calling you pretentious and head to the top place in the city even if it is crap!

I just used some blossoms and did not even think about putting them on a pizza. I am so tempted to make this. The last photo is beautiful!!

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Victoria May 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

What a beautiful pizza utilizing one of my FAVORITE seasonal ingredients! Good luck at the Eat Real festival! Mac and cheese is one of my favorite comforts foods :)

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Noelle@OPera Singer in Kitchen May 26, 2010 at 10:47 am

Fantastic recipe and pictures! So creative.

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The Food Hunter May 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Not pretenious at all…this looks amazing!!

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Kasey May 26, 2010 at 2:40 pm

AHHH! This issue of Saveur that features squash blossom pizza on its cover has been sitting on my coffee table for months now and I have been DROOLING over this pizza, just waiting to see squash blossoms at the market (which I haven’t seen yet, boo). This looks incredible! Oh and congrats on the festival! Woohoo!

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Allison Arevalo May 27, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Oh wow! I had no idea Saveur did it – really, I swear! I’m gonna check it out now. Hope you had a great bday Kasey!

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Tony Perez May 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Wow, Looks really great & bet it’s a new taste altogether. I’ve got to try it, looks like the perfect spring-into-summer recipe. & You’re not pretentious. Passionate may be a better word.

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Amanda@easypeasyorganic.com May 27, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Just found your blog, and I love it! You take the most gorgeous pictures. Will definitely be following :)

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sippitysup May 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

You are knowledgeable. You have a great sense of style. You have talent and are probably beautiful to boot. Embrace it! GREG

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Sandra May 28, 2010 at 6:18 pm

It’s only pretentious or snobby if you look down on other people for not doing just what you do. Which, I mean, I’m sure you don’t, but you do say (twice – once here and once in the Foodgawker caption, so clearly it was important) “I don’t want to go with you to Burger King” – as in “you, dear reader, have fast food taste – allow me to educate you.”

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Dana May 29, 2010 at 7:56 am

Mmm what a tasty looking pizza! I love, love, love your photos. They are amazing!

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Jermajesty April 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm

coDIhm Very true! Makes a change to see someone spell it out like that. :)

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Full Time Foodie May 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I hear ya! Hooray for being “pretentious” foodies!

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Dodie June 8, 2010 at 12:02 am

There is a scale on “pretentious”. Not replacing shoes in favor of salt puts you in favor.

Kids, just remember to never replace the delicacy of squash blossoms with yellow trumpet flowers. It’s bound to end in tears.

I am so making this.

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Tim June 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm

One suggestion for pizza: generally you don’t want to roll out the dough because it tends to ruin the structure of the dough. You actually want a little bit of air in the dough, and rolling it pushes out the air. Alternatively, when you have the dough on your surface, push it out from the middle with your fingers. When you get it to a reasonable size, you may need to pick up the dough gently from the edges and let gravity pull it out to a the desired, larger size. You’ll want to be careful so you don’t stretch it too thin and/or put a hole in it. Taking this approach, you’ll often get a pie that continues to rise in the oven, with some nice, brown air pockets that make the dough light with a pleasant texture.

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Meg August 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I happened upon your post while looking for recipes for my first time cooking squash blossoms and found so much more! I get the “pretentious” or “high maintenance” label all the time and never know how to respond. Your response is eloquent, thoughtful and unapologetic. I am book-marking this post & already feeling better about the next time I say I’d rather not have Popeye’s. Thank you!

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