This is the first in a series of monthly posts called EAT & DRINK In The Northwest. The series is authored by Melissa Peterman and Marcus Pape. Read more about the series here.

EAT & DRINK In The Northwest
Fall Food & Wine Pairing: Squash

When it comes to seasonal fall and winter squash, there is always one that seems to take center stage on restaurant menus, glossy food magazines and in pre-made food products. That would be the ever-popular butternut squash. As much as I love this creamy, sweet and mild squash, I feel that it has been over-used in ravioli or in pureed soups.

Marcus and I wanted to celebrate this beloved vegetable in a new way. Why not on a pizza? Bold roasted butternut squash paired with slow caramelized sweet onions, savory roasted cauliflower, fresh, earthy sage and rich Swiss cheese and you have a unique pizza that celebrates fall just as much as it celebrates this favorite gourd. Better yet, the components of this unique pizza can be made a day or two ahead of time, so when the pizza dough is ready to go, all you need to do is sprinkle on the toppings and pop it in the oven for about ten minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Pizza (makes 1 large pizza)
½ head of cauliflower, cored, outer leaves removed and florets rough chopped
1 half butternut squash, peeled and cubed to make (approximately (1 ½ c. roasted squash)
6 T. olive oil
3 T. thinly cut sage
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. shredded Gruyere
½ sweet onion, diced
16 oz. homemade pizza dough *see recipe or purchased pizza dough
Cornmeal (for the bottom of the dough)

Preheat oven to 400° F

Add cauliflower florets and 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper to a large bowl and toss to coat. Spread cauliflower onto half of a baking sheet. Add the diced butternut squash to that bowl with1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon shredded fresh sage and a pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread the butternut next to the cauliflower and place the baking sheet in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring vegetables half way through cooking. Vegetables should be caramelized and fork-tender. Remove baking sheet from oven and cool. Next, in a medium sauté pan over high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onions, a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 1 minute; reduce heat to medium and cook another 8 minutes. Move onions to a dish to cool. Make a garlic olive oil sauce by adding 1 minced garlic clove with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper into the pan used for sautéing onions. Stir olive oil and garlic for only 30 seconds until garlic becomes fragrant, but not dark, and set aside to cool.

Adjust heat to 450°F and if using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to pre-heat.
Stretch and roll out homemade pizza dough into a large circle and place it onto a cornmeal- sprinkled cutting board. If using purchased pizza dough, pre-bake dough for 4 minutes now, let it cool slightly and then continue with the recipe.

Evenly spread olive oil/garlic sauce over the dough leaving a 1-inch border around the pizza. Evenly disperse the shredded Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, butternut squash and cauliflower over the pizza.

Transfer homemade dough to a baking sheet or preheated pizza stone. Now bake pizza (with either type of dough) until the crust is crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Once pizza is out of the oven, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of fresh sage before serving.

Cook’s Tip
Experiment with other types of cheese like crumbled Gorgonzola, Parmesan or shaved Gouda for a different flavor.

Pizza Dough (makes 1 pound ball of dough)
¾ c. warm water 105 to 110ºF
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 T. milk
3 T. olive oil
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp. salt

Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon milk.

Mix 2 cups flour and salt in processor. Add yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons oil; process until dough forms a sticky ball. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by small handfuls if dough is too sticky, about 1 minute. Rub dough lightly with a tablespoon of olive oil and place in a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm area until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Either store in an airtight container, up to one day, or roll out dough for pizza onto a floured surface, adding a little more flour if necessary.

Winter squash provides a multitude of recipe and wine pairing options. It can be prepared in sweet or savory dishes, with pasta and various cheeses, or as a complement to hearty meats. The versatility in which these fall and winter vegetables can be prepared offers a variety of wine pairing solutions.

Given that much of the time squash is prepared using butter, Chardonnay is often a good match. But then many other veggie friendly whites may also fit the bill including Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. However, if you mix a little meat in there I would then lean toward a red pairing, including Pinot Noir and various Bordeaux blends.

Below are a list of squash recipes that have appeared within the pages of our EAT & DRINK books, along with their wine compliments. This should give you an idea of the different wine varieties parable with various preparations of squash.

Roasted Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Pizza
Cave B Estate Winery 2006 Chardonnay, Washington
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Ethos Chardonnay, Washington
Thurston Wolfe 2007 Lemberger Rosé, Washington

Flank Steak and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2005 Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Washington

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Quesadilla with Ginger-Lime Beet Salsa
Panther Creek Cellars 2006 20th Anniversary Reserve Pinot Noir, Oregon
Cristom Vineyards 2006 Jessie Vineyard Pinot Noir, Oregon
Coeur d’Alene Cellars 2007 Chardonnay, Washington

Yam Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce
Efeste 2005 Final Final Cabernet-Syrah, Washington
Lost River Winery 2005 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington
L’Ecole No 41 2005 Seven Hills Vineyard Estate Perigee, Washington