"I hate people who are not serious about their meals."

Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest

Friday, June 04, 2010

A Pizza Of The Non-Traditional Variety

"Pumpkin? On a pizza?" were my now husbands' words when I proposed we order this particular pizza from my local delivery place in Sydney. I told him it was my favourite, and asked him to just trust me. Luckily he did. The lightest swirl of sauce on the base, topped with shavings of pumpkin, pecorino and ham and finished with a sprinkle of dried chili flakes was love at first bite for me. I suppose he must have thought that it was pretty good too, because he suggested that we should try and make it together some time. Upon returning to the USA he even purchased a mandolin for the express purpose of slicing pumpkin thinly enough to put it on said pizza. (I love this man!) So naturally once I arrived Stateside we began planning how we would go about recreating what we had eaten. After a few runs that weren't quite right: too much sauce, base too thick, sauce too thick; on the first bite of our fourth try, we knew we'd got the balance right. The trick seemed to be to water the sauce down so as to give just enough to coat the base without the tomato flavour overpowering the rest of the ingredients. The original used pecorino cheese, but our supermarket was out. We used romano and it worked just as well. One of the other keys to this mixture is to resist the temptation to add too much cheese. Remember, this isn't a traditional pizza. The cheese is there for flavour, not as a cover-all. Having a mandolin or some kind of slicing machine is pretty essential to this, unless you have a very sharp knives, and steady hands to match. Though in a pinch you could use a vegetable peeler.

Mantova Pizza
adapted from Arthur's Pizza 
I'm not going to give exact quantities here, so you can make whatever size pizza you like. 
Any extra ham and pumpkin slices are great for use on toasted sandwiches the next day.

Pizza dough - we were lazy and bought dough, but there's a great, easy recipe at Smitten Kitchen
Butternut pumpkin (Butternut squash), cut into wedges and then into 2-3mm slices
Ham - I would reccomend Honey Smoked, or Black Forest if you like it a little smokier
Pecorino or Romano cheese, shaved
Napolitana sauce - you want to use about 1 tablespoon of water to every 4 tablespoons sauce
Dried Chili Flakes

Preheat oven to 450F/230C
Grease your pizza pan and roll the dough out until it is about 6mm thick. Heat your sauce a little, this helps both to mix in the water and also enables it to spread more easily. Using the back of a spoon, thinly spread the sauce over the base. Don't overload it - you don't want your base to be soggy! Top with the ham first, followed by the pumpkin and cheese. Don't cover the top with cheese, just use enough to enhance the flavour. Finally, sprinkle with chili flakes to taste. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly blistered and the edges are crispy. Delicious.


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