Squash blossom and ricotta pizza

This pizza is my love letter to Pizzeria Mozza in West Hollywood. Namely because I love that restaurant, but driving all the way over there from the South Bay area in Southern California is a giant pain. They have this wonderful pizza with Nancy Silverton’s perfected O.G. La Brea Bakery bread that has a blanket of tomato sauce, cheese, and a pretty garnish of squash blossoms and dollops of ricotta that I am obsessed with. As somebody who loves fried squash blossoms stuffed with cheese, this is literally that, but in pizza form!

For me, I can only ever buy squash(or also called zucchini) blossoms at my local farmers market, so before anyone asks where to buy those from, I would say check yours first. They are traditionally stuffed with cheese, battered, and deep fried in most cases. Interestingly enough, squash blossoms are usually still attached to the little baby zucchini they are growing from, and I wanted to make sure that those were put to good use too, so onto the pizza they went!

For the dough, I went fairly simple, with a yeasted dough with olive oil. I didn’t even bother adding sugar to my yeast, which I would normally do, just because I found that it causes the dough to smell too much like vodka over time – the yeast metabolizes the sugar and over time, if not baked off right away, causes the dough to smell horrendous – worry not, as baking a dough that smells like that is fine usually, but I just don’t want my refrigerator reeking of alcohol. You can also just buy your own premade pizza dough, but I wanted to include the option, since I am a baker after all!

The sauce was made somewhat in the style of a puttanesca, using tomatoes, anchovies, and chili to give it a nice kick. I wanted it to be spicy, sweet, sour, and salty, so I went with the things that would best give me that end result. I did use canned tomatoes in this recipe, but more so because having to prep and cook tomatoes from fresh for a sauce like this would take a lot longer than one would think, and would also just be a more substantial mess to clean up. Cooking should be fun, not tedious, after all!

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons active-dry yeast powder
1/3 cup warm water
a pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl to form your dough. Knead the dough on a flat surface for at least 10 minutes. You want it to be really elastic(that’ll give the dough a lot of chewiness later down the line). Rest the dough, covered, at room temperature for an hour. Then refrigerate the dough until time to use.

For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 filets of anchovy
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch of oregano
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes

Sweat out the garlic, anchovy paste, shallot, chili flakes, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano, and salt together. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook down into a relatively thick consistency, similar to a jam. Allow the sauce to cool slightly before using.

To garnish:
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Squash blossoms
Shaved baby zucchini
Ricotta cheese
Parmesan or Pecorino, shaved

Divide your dough into two pieces. Roll out each piece to be about 12 inches in diameter. Divide your sauce between the two pizzas. Garnish the with shaved zucchini, then mozzarella, then squash blossom, quenelles of ricotta, and shave parmesan or pecorino on top. Bake at 500 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

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