Pizza del Papa (Butternut Squash and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza)

  • Serves

    makes four 10-inch pizzas


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


  • 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


Step 1

Heat oven to 500°. Toss butternut squash with 1⁄4 cup olive oil and salt on a baking sheet; bake until tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a food processor with 1⁄4 lb. mozzarella, plus ricotta, cream, and salt; purée until smooth. Heat 1⁄4 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.

Step 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 1⁄4" 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 1⁄8" thick; transfer to a semolina-dusted pizza peel. Spread 1⁄2 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.

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