I got the idea for this squash blossom 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 herself. 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. Pizzeria Mozza is also where I became mesmerized with the graphic detail of gauzy zucchini flowers as they were arranged onto each squash blossom pizza. I copied that arrangement here. However I don’t have a wood fired oven so I had to adapt the pie for my kitchen.
Let’s face it– even with a great dough recipe, pizza is very hard for the home cook to perfect. Most of our kitchens are just not equipped with an oven hot enough to do the job well. But smaller flat-bread versions like pizzettes or calzoni are much easier to handle at home. So I developed a dough just for that purpose, it’s from my first book Savory Pies or you can find the recipe here on my blog. I promise you– with a good pizza stone and a 500 degree oven– you’ll be pleased with these little pies and their chewy, slightly charred crusts.
Skillet Squash Blossom Pizza
But sometimes you just want to share a pizza with a friend. There’s something communal about sliding off a slice and placing it on someone’s plate for them. So until I get a pizza oven in my back yard I’ll be making most of my homemade full-sized pizzas either on the grill or in a cast iron skillet. They’re fun, tasty and very adaptable. This squash blossom pizza is no exception, I just wonder what Nancy would think of crème fraîche? GREG
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.
- 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)
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.
I really enjoy making pizzas for friends. It’s an easy way to impress. Plus, I love watching everyone’s expression after their first bite. Happiness! This Squash Blossom Pizza looks pretty darn good.
Thanks for the tips re: pizza and using squash blossoms. Yes, pizza is definitely a challenge in a home oven.
What an amazing idea! Great looking and sound recipe! So glad to have stumbled by!
Sorry but I have to gush. This is over the top, exceptional Greg! Nancy and creme fraiche, uh, yea, of course. I’m surprised she hasn’t commented yet to thank you for the brilliant idea.
I’ve never made pizza in a cast iron pan, but I am excited to try your method. Thank you for the inspiration.
P.S. Like the word ‘gauzy’ to describe the blossoms. Nice.
This is beautiful! And damn that delicious Mozza pizza. I’ve bent over backwards so many times eating there, but my brain always made me forget about it somehow. Also, what kind of blanco skillet is that?