By Alexandra Stafford
At the height of their season, summer squash (when shaved thinly with a peeler) need nothing more than a drizzling of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkling of salty Pecorino. But as these cooler months creep in, the last of the summer squash beg to be baked into gratins, folded into risotto, tossed with spaghetti, or layered over pizza dough. Here, grated zucchini and yellow squash, salted to remove liquid, are tossed with an equal amount of Pecorino and spread over a thin layer of ricotta. A handful of basil adds a touch of freshness to this simple combination, both light and comforting–a perfect entry into fall.
Summer Squash Pizza with Fresh Ricotta, Pecorino & Basil
Yield = 3 pizzas
3 rounds of Lahey pizza dough (See recipe below.)
2 medium summer squash (about 1.5 lbs) (1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash make for nice color variety.)
kosher salt grated Pecorino cheese, about a heaping cup
cornmeal or flour for dusting peel or parchment paper, cut into three 12-inch squares (Optional, but helpful.)
fresh ricotta (Homemade is easy. See recipe below.)
a few leaves of fresh basil
1. Place your Baking Steel in the oven and preheat your oven to 550ºF. Allow Steel to heat for 45 minutes.
2. About 30 minutes to an hour before baking, remove pizza dough from fridge and let rest on a lightly floured surface.
3. Meanwhile, grate the zucchini on a box grater, then place in a large bowl and toss with about a teaspoon of kosher salt. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain grated squash, and squeeze it with your hands to remove excess liquid. Measure or (estimate) how many cups of zucchini you have after the liquid has been drained. Toss the squash with an equal amount of grated Pecorino. (For example, if you have a cup of grated squash, toss it with a cup of Pecorino.) Set aside.
4. When you are ready to bake, gently stretch each round into a 11- to 12-inch circle. Note: You can do this in the air using the backs of your hands to gently stretch out the dough, or you can do this on the surface of your board. Do whatever method is more comfortable for you. If you are comfortable using your peel, dust it lightly with flour or cornmeal; otherwise, place a piece of parchment on the peel. Transfer dough to peel. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Use your fingers to stretch the dough out if necessary.
5. Spread a thin layer of ricotta over the dough. Top with a thin layer of the squash-Pecorino mixture. Shimmy your pizza onto the Steel. Bake until pizza is blistered and bubbly, about five minutes. (Note: After about a minute or two, you can pull the pieces of parchment paper from underneath each pizza (if you wish) or you can just let them char.) Remove pizza from Steel (tongs are helpful for this) and place on serving board. Throw some fresh basil leaves overtop. Repeat process with remaining rounds.
Lahey Pizza Dough
500 grams flour, preferably tipo 00, plus more for shaping dough
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 1.5 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
3. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill.
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
Yield =2 cups
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white wine, white or apple cider, or white balsamic vinegar
1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Line the sieve with cheesecloth. Secure the cheesecloth to the sieve with clips or clothespins.
2. Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).
3. Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding (or saving ...you can make bread with the whey) the liquid that collects in the bowl. Transfer the ricotta to a storage container. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.