Adding bacon to pizza was the best idea I’ve had all week.
Second only, of course, to the idea of buying way too much of all my favorite Halloween candy (Reese’s cups) for all the Trick or Treaters who annually avoid our house because (a) our road has a double yellow line, and (b) we have a super-scary, vicious-sounding Doberhound who loves kids but hates kids in costumes. (And their parents. And their teenage siblings. And their dogs/cats/gerbils.) So now I’m stuck with a pile of Reese’s and I have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Except that’s completely a lie, and I’m practically salivating at the promise of peanut-butter-cup-chunk ice cream.
So… Bacon and Butternut Pizza. Two of my favorite ingredients combined in one of my favorite ways: on pizza. Lest you think this is just some lame attempt to work two of the food world’s trendiest ingredients into one meal, let me tell you this pizza is legit. Like, M.C. Hammer legit. And that’s legit. 2 Legit 2 Quit.
I have a love-hate relationship with butternut squash in that I love it but hate to prepare it. All that peeling. Ugh. Trader Joe’s is all the way across town, and they’re the only ones who sell peeled and chunked butternut, so it looks like it’s me, a butternut, my knife, and a Life Alert bracelet for when I inevitably disfigure my hands in the process. But it really is worth all the fuss. And while you’re chopping, just keep telling yourself that it’s for the greater good. It’s for the pizza.
The thing that makes this pizza so amazing (aside from hellooooo, the bacon) is that the textures and flavors all marry together in the most perfect of ways. For example, the sage pesto. I don’t know many people who would walk across hot coals for sage, but the woodsy flavor is perfect with the smoky bacon. The savory cheeses balance the sweetness of the onions and squash. The complex flavor profile complements the body and structure of a glass of Old Vine Zin.
(I am totally making that up. I think everything complements Old Vine Zin. I’ll even toss around big wine words like oenophile and viticulture to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, but I’m really just kicking back on my couch with my stack of Reese’s and my boxed OVZ like the rock star that I am.)
The Booze Hound said this was restaurant quality and he has learned that if he tells me something is good just to avoid hurting my feelings, he’s in trouble. So believe him- this is restaurant quality. And really, isn’t that what we all want at the end of the day? To kick back with some restaurant quality pizza, a stack of Reese’s and wash it all down with some OVZ? I thought so!
- 1 lb pizza dough
- ⅔ c fresh sage
- ¼ c toasted walnuts
- 2-3 T olive oil
- 2 t grated parmesan
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 c petite diced butternut squash
- 2 T unsalted butter, divided
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 slices thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon
- 4 oz grated parmesan
- 8 oz crumbled goat cheese
- Prepare your pizza dough. (If using frozen dough from the supermarket or your fave pizzeria, follow their instructions.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Make the pesto: Combine sage, walnuts, and 2 t parmesan in a food processor and blend till combined. Stream in olive oil and process until everything is well-combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I probably used about ¼-1/2 teaspoon of each). Set aside.
- Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add butternut, about ½ t salt, ½ t pepper and a pinch of nutmeg, tossing to coat. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes (check once to make sure it's not burning! Cook's tip!), then stir and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes more, just so that the sides are browned and the squash is cooked through. Remove from skillet, and set aside. In the same skillet, melt another 1 T of butter over medium heat, and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cover and let them caramelize for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- While the onions are caramelizing, place the bacon on a wire cooling rack set inside a foil-lined baking sheet. If you don't have a cooling rack, just put bacon directly on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until bacon is done to your liking (there is a wide range of preferred bacon 'doneness' and I respect each and every one). Once cool enough to handle, chop/crumble bacon and set aside.
- To bake your pizza, increase the oven temp down to 550 degrees if you are using my pizza dough. Otherwise, follow instructions for your pizza dough of choice.
- While temp is adjusting, using a floured rolling pin and floured hands, roll and stretch dough into a ⅛-inch-thick pie shape (this gives you a medium-thickness crust, like Neapolitan pizza) on a floured work surface (you get the idea... flour everything!). Draping the dough over your knuckles and slowly rotating the dough around them also helps. If you're having a hard time stretching your dough, it may be too cold. Try letting it rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 10-15 minutes at room temperature, then reattempt the stretching. My pizzas are far from perfect circles- embrace the rustic look.
- Transfer the stretched dough to a large baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil (or if using a pizza stone and peel, dust peel with cornmeal instead of olive oil. See notes for more on pizza stones.). Now you're ready to start topping. Spread about 2-3 T pesto over the dough. Top with half the grated parm, then butternut, then onions, then bacon. Top with crumbled goat cheese and the rest of the parm. Bake pizza for 13-15 minutes, until crust is nice and browned and crisp, and cheese is bubbly. Let the pizza rest for a minute or two before cutting into slices.
This pizza is also great on the grill in the summer. If you want to grill, I have a special dough I make for grilled pizza (+ instructions) here.
I did have the crazy thought to cook the bacon in the skillet, and then use the bacon fat in place of butter when sauteeing the squash and onions, but I was afraid the flavor of bacon would overpower the squash and onions, and after making this as written, I think I'm right. But hey, try it and let me know!