Pizza del Papa (Butternut Squash and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza)

Butternut Squash and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
Butternut Squash and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza
Pope John Paul loved it and you will too!Todd Coleman

Antonio Starita, the owner of Pizzeria Starita in Naples, served this butternut squash-topped pizza to Pope John Paul II. This recipe first appeared in our May 2013 issue with Keith Pandolfi's article The Gold of Naples.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food

Pizza del Papa (Butternut Squash and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza)
Antonio Starita, the owner of Pizzeria Starita in Naples, served this butternut squash-topped pizza to Pope John Paul II.
Yield: makes four 10-inch pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • 34 cup olive oil, plus more
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 14 lb. smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. ricotta
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 each red and yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 recipe Naples-style pizza dough
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • Fine semolina, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 500°. Toss butternut squash with 14 cup olive oil and salt on a baking sheet; bake until tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with 14 lb. mozzarella, plus ricotta, cream, and salt; purée until smooth. Heat 14 cup oil and chile flakes in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and salt; cook until golden, 8-10 minutes, and transfer to a bowl. Add remaining oil to skillet; return to medium-high heat. Add peppers; cook until golden, 5-7 minutes.
  2. Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes. Working in 4 batches, dust 1 ball dough with semolina. Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10" circle about 14" thick, leaving a 1" crust around the edges. Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about 18" thick; transfer to a semolina-dusted pizza peel. Spread 12 cup squash purée over dough and distribute a quarter each of the zucchini, peppers, and remaining cheese, plus basil leaves; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto stone; broil until cheese melts and crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes. Serve hot.