Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Butternut Squash And Sage Pizza

Pizza Hut ain't got nothin' on this smoky (and cheese-less) pie.

Butternut squash and sage pizza sliced and sitting on a tabletop

Photo: Stephanie Weaver (The Recipe Renovator)

Beneath the scrumptious toppings is a sauce so good I have "WOW!" written next to it in my recipe book.

When I tell you that this sauce makes me forget I ever liked cheese, will you believe me? When I tell you that this sauce makes absolutely anything taste better, will you think I’m exaggerating? When I tell you that this sauce is creamy, rich, hearty and easy, will you think I’ve gone off the deep end?

I am grateful to Vegan Coach for giving me the general idea for this recipe. I took her list of ingredients, played with it, measured, played some more, and now have the definitive vegan cheese pizza sauce.

For the pizza pictured above, I used a frozen gluten-free pizza crust, which would be vegan except for the egg whites. (For a vegan crust, see Natalie Rae Good’s recipe.)

With a frozen crust, just let it thaw while you make the sauce and sauté any veggies you want on top. For a gluten-free crust mix, follow package directions. I usually pre-bake for about 10 minutes on parchment on a baking sheet. Then I top the pizza and transfer it to my hot pizza stone while still on the parchment. It bakes at least 10 minutes with the toppings on it, but usually more like 15 or 20.

Butternut Squash And Sage PIzza

Ingredients

  • 1/4 butternut squash, cut and roasted until tender
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 handful fresh sage leaves
  • Smoky white sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 gluten-free pizza crust

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the cashews for the pizza sauce in water to soak (see recipe below). While they are soaking…
  2. Peel the onion, cut in half, and cut into the thinnest slices you can. Heat 1 T. (15 ml) olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, stirring until coated with oil. Turn down the heat a little and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender, golden, and caramelized.
  3. Preheat oven to the temperature indicated on your crust package, usually 375F/190C/gas mark 5. Place a pizza stone in the center of the oven if you have one. Cut a piece of parchment paper a little larger than the pizza. (You can use a baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone.)
  4. Thinly slice the roasted squash pieces.
  5. Thinly slice the sage leaves into ribbons.?Make the smoky pizza sauce (recipe below). Spread the sauce on the pizza crust, and top with squash, caramelized onions, and sage ribbons.?Put the pizza on the parchment and set it on top of the pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating once, until golden and melty.

Smoky White Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid aminos or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or oil from sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water

Cooking Directions

  1. Put the cashews along with the peeled garlic and all the other ingredients into your blender. If you have a high-speed blender with a tamper, use the tamper. If not, you’ll have to stop fairly often and scrape down the sides to get everything to blend. Add just enough water, if needed, to get it to blend to a thick, smooth, creamy sauce.
  2. Spread it on the pizza crust, adding your prepared toppings. Bake about 15 minutes until the cheese sauce starts to darken.

Notes: You can use this same sauce recipe and add more of the water to make a dip, a pasta/casserole sauce or even a thin dressing. If you want a truly “white” sauce, omit the smoked paprika, which turns it into a nacho cheese color. If you want a more traditional pizza, you can put marinara sauce on the crust first, then this, then your toppings. In that case, ease up on the smoke flavor when making the sauce.

Stephanie Weaver

Stephanie Weaver is a writer and wellness advocate who lives in San Diego. Her specialty is remaking recipes with healthy ingredients: low-sodium, gluten-free and migraine-friendly. She has a Master's in public health in nutrition education from the University of Illinois. Visit her blog Recipe Renovator.

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