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Squash Blossom Skillet Pizza

Squash Blossom Pizza

I got the idea for this skillet pizza from Nancy Silverton. Back when Pizzeria Mozza first opened I used to stand in line for one of the lunchtime no reservation required seats at the pizza bar. Not only did I like the no reservation required bit. But I loved sitting at the bar facing the pizza oven– almost nose to nose with Nancy. Nancy inspected every pie as it came out of the oven and put the final touches on each one. It’s why you’ll always find a bundle of dried oregano tied up with string in my kitchen, ready to be shaken into some dish. Mozza is also where I became mesmerized with the graphic detail of gauzy squash blossoms as they were arranged onto each pizza. I copied that arrangement here. But as I’ll never have an oven like that, I had to adapt the pie for my kitchen. I wonder what Nancy would think of crème fraîche?

Squash Blossom Skillet Pizza

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For those times of year when squash blossoms are not available you can use the same amount of mozzarella and replace crème fraîche with marinara sauce and exchange arugula or spinach for squash blossoms in the same ratios. Try this version with a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like.

Squash Blossom Pizza

Ingredients

  • ½ pound pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
  • olive oil (as needed)
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche (at room temperature)
  • 2 ounce low moisture mozzarella (chilled then coarsely grated)
  • 12 squash blossoms (slit on one side, stems and stamens removed)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • extra-virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • Fresh basil leaves as garnish (to taste)

Directions

Let the dough come to room temperature covered on the counter about an hour or more beforehand. The extra time sitting at room temperature will increase the fermentation giving the dough that pizza parlor tang.

Place oven rack in top position. Heat oven to 500 degrees F (or as high as it goes).

When ready to make the pizza, brush bottom and sides of a cold 10 to 12 inch cast iron skillet with a little olive oil. Use your fingertips to press the dough onto the bottom of the entire skillet. Set aside to rest about 5 minutes. If the dough retracts press it out again and let it rest again. Repeat until it no longer retracts during resting.

Brush more olive oil in a ½‑inch border all around the edges of dough. Lightly salt dough all over. Dollop crème fraîche into the center and use the back of the spoon to spread evenly, leaving the ½‑inch border uncovered. Spread grated mozzarella over the crème fraîche, still leaving the ½‑inch border uncovered.

Open each slit squash blossom, spreading them flat. Lay 5 blossoms, stem end towards center, in a ring around the edge of pizza. Repeat with another layer of 4 blossoms, forming a slightly smaller ring about 1‑inch in from the first. Use the last 3 blossoms in the same manner to form the final ring.

Set the dough-lined skillet over medium-high heat until the bottom of dough begins to brown, about 6 minutes. It need not be cooked all the way through. Transfer skillet to heated oven and bake until crust is golden brown and fully cooked, about 12 to 15 minutes– depending on oven temperature. Watch closely.

Remove skillet from the oven and place it on a rack to cool, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove pizza from pan using tongs and an oven mitt. Give it a good grind of black pepper and a drizzle of very good extra-virgin olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Slice and serve warm.