butternut squash pizza with za'atar-3

I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. The past couple of months have flown by—I’ve barely settled into Fall and here we are moving quickly towards the holidays. And Halloween is this Thursday! You guys, I can’t tell you how excited I am. SO EXCITED. I love, love, love Halloween. But I’ll post a little more about that later this week.

  butternut squash pizza with za'atar

Today I want to talk to you about this little beauty right here: a fluffy-doughed butternut squash pizza with za’atar. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one for deep-dish pizza. I prefer super-thin pizzas with delicate toppings and not too much cheese (or none at all). This contradicts that in soooo many ways, but it’s soooo good I couldn’t resist. It’s super fluffy and has really bold toppings—and TWO types of cheese. When I mentioned this to Roly he practically sat by the oven waiting for them to come out—and when they did they didn’t disappoint.

  butternut squash pizza with za'atar-2

The combination of cheese and za’atar is a classic one in the Middle East, but the addition of butternut squash and chili flakes gives it a surprising update. If you’re unfamiliar with za’atar, it’s a mix of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and more often than not sumac. The blend is highly customizable, and you’ll find variations of it across the region. It has a bold, tart flavor that’s great for marinades, rubs, seasoning, or just for eating with olive oil and bread.

I make the dough from scratch here, and I hope that doesn’t deter you from making this. It’s incredibly easy (and therapeutic!) and shouldn’t get anything too messy if done right.

This recipe is my lunch recipe for this month’s 3/1 Seasonal Challenge—I hope you’ll try it out and maybe join in the challenge next month!

butternut squash pizza with za'atar-4

Butternut Squash Pizza with Za’atar

If you live outside the Middle East, you should be able to find za’atar (or the makings of it) in any good specialty store. the dough used here is a bread/pizza hybrid. I let the dough prove for two hours, but you could leave it overnight—the results will be similar. This recipe can be doubled to serve 4.

Serves 2 (Makes 2 pizzas)

For the dough:

  • 250 g flour (‘00’ is preferable, but you could use all-purpose)
  • ½ tsp instant yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150 ml lukewarm water

For the toppings:

  • ½ a butternut squash, approximately 250 g
  • 4 tbsp za’atar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 g mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
  • 150 g halloumi cheese, coarsely grated
  • ¼ tsp dried chili flakes

 First, prepare the dough. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix with a spatula. Once combined, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is silky smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Shape into a ball, and place in a bowl that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to prove in a warm place for at least two hours.

While the dough is proving, prepare the toppings: Peel and deseed the butternut squash. Place it in a steamer and steam until cooked (when a knife runs easily through the center), 30-40 minutes (depending on the shape of your squash and the type of steamer you are using). Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine the za’atar and olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 200°C.

When the pizza dough has risen, place it on a gently floured surface and roll into a ball. Using a sharp knife, divide your ball of dough into two even parts. Roll each one out gently, and once they are about 2 cm thick, start to stretch them out with your hands. You want to end up with dough that is about 1 cm thick.

Place each pizza onto a well-oiled baking tray, and lightly brush the surface with olive oil.

Pour the za’atar mixture onto the base of the pizza, followed by the mozzarella, then the halloumi. Lastly, thinly slice the butternut squash and place on top of the cheese, along with the chili flakes.

Place the pizzas in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden around the edges.

Eat them while they’re warm!