If you're anything like me, a little grapeseed or olive oil paired with a fabulous mix of spices and freshly baked bread is the perfect appetizer to almost any meal. Great quality oils can be so incredibly versatile, making the perfect addition to salad dressings, sauteed veggies and of course, dipping spices. So, when I heard of a contest that Marx Foods was hosting to promote their new seed oils, I excitedly sent them an email right away. They were looking to select 6 food bloggers to develop a recipe using the oil, and then write a candid review for the product.
Fast forward a week or so, and I came home to find a package on my front doorstep. Yay! I had been selected! I opened the box right away and was excited to find a bottle of Butternut Squash Seed Oil inside. Butternut Squash Seed Oil?!? That sounded amazing. I didn't even know such a thing existed. Once I made it to my kitchen, I opened up the bottle and a beautiful, nutty aroma found it's way to my nose. I knew right away that I was holding something pretty special. The next thing I did was taste a tiny bit. After all, I wanted to get a good handle on the flavor profile before deciding how to use it. The nuttiness was strong yet not overwhelming...In fact, it was just right. There was even a hint of sweetness.
The wheels started turning and I began brainstorming about how I wanted to use the oil. I wanted a recipe where the oil could stand out and maybe be utilized in several different ways, so that it could really be appreciated. I finally decided that a homemade pizza from scratch would be the absolute perfect way to showcase this delicious oil.
In this recipe, the butternut squash seed oil is used 3 different ways. First, I added 1/4 cup of the oil right to the pizza dough itself. This gave the dough a wonderful depth of flavor which I had never tasted in a pizza dough before. Next, the oil has a high smoke point, which makes it perfect for sauteing vegetables. So, I sauteed a red onion in the oil, and then added a splash of balsamic vinegar near the end, along with several cups of baby arugula. This combination was magical and made the perfect topping for the pizza. And lastly, I drizzled the oil along the crust of the pizza, right before popping it into the piping hot oven. This resulted in a beautifully browned crust.
The final result? I can honestly say that I was blown away by this pizza, and the butternut squash seed oil is quite delish...I'm hooked! Somewhere between the balsamic red onions, bacon pieces, roasted butternut squash, squash seed oil and pesto, pizza magic is created. The flavors meld together so beautifully, and Brad and I both said that it was actually some of the very best pizza we've EVER had. It rivals the pizzas that we ate in Italy, where I really learned to appreciate pizzas made with thinner crusts and the best quality ingredients available.
This is definitely a keeper.
My only complaint about the butternut squash seed oil? I'm going to run out too quickly!
Bon Appetit, my friends!
Note: While I did receive a complimentary bottle of the Butternut Squash Seed Oil, all opinions and comments in this post are completely my own. When reviewing a product on this blog, I will always be honest and tell you exactly what I think...the good, the bad and the ugly!
Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Baby Arugula, Red Onion, Pesto and Butternut Squash Seed Oil
Balsamic Red Onions with Wilted Arugula...Yum!
Right before going into the oven...
Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza with Pesto, Bacon, Goat Cheese & Balsamic Red Onions
Yields: 3 medium pizzas
9 slices thick cut bacon
3 tbsp. Butternut Squash Seed Oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 oz. bag baby arugula
3 cups butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (recipe below)
3.5 oz jar pesto
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook bacon until crispy. Break into small pieces and set to the side.
While the bacon is frying, drizzle 2 tablespoons butternut squash seed oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender and golden, about 10-15 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until liquid cooks away and onion is very tender, about 5-10 minutes more; season onion with salt and pepper. Add baby arugula and continue to saute just until the arugula has wilted. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, place the butternut squash on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned, and stirring halfway through.
Once the butternut squash is finished roasting, remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees F.
To assemble the pizza:
Take one of the pizza dough balls and roll or toss into the desired size. Spread 1/3 of the pesto onto the dough, leaving a 1 inch border. Next, take 1/3 of the balsamic onion and arugula mixture and spread over the pesto. Next, do the same with 1/3 of the roasted butternut squash, then the goat cheese, and finally 1/3 of the bacon pieces. Drizzle a small amount of butternut squash seed oil around the crust of the pizza, spreading it evenly over the crust with you finger. Season the entire pizza with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Bake in the preheated 500 F oven for 12 - 14 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted From: Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef's Love Affair with Italian Food
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 F to 115 F)
1 tbsp honey (I used Wildflower Honey from Helen, GA)
1 tbsp honey (I used Wildflower Honey from Helen, GA)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Butternut Squash Seed Oil
Cornmeal for dusting (optional)
Pour the warm water into a small bowl, stir in the honey, and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Set aside to proof until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl and a sturdy hand mixer). Add the yeast mixture and butternut squash seed oil and mix on low speed until the dough forms a mass on the paddle and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (Note: I sometimes have to add a little extra flour near the end of mixing, if the dough is still too wet. Add a little at a time, if needed....in 1 tbsp. increments, until the dough comes together)
Remove the dough and divide it into 3 equal portions. Put on a flour-dusted baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until almost doubled. (You can make the dough ahead and refrigerate it overnight if necessary; allow it to come to room temperature before continuing).