The squash blossoms at the local farmers market this summer have been tempting me each week as I walk by. There’s just something about their delicate nature and vivid orange hue. They look the way summer should taste.
However, not having cooked with them before I wasn’t sure what I would do with them. Knowing that they wither quickly, I had to have a plan in place before I could bring them home. My friend Cindy suggested this Squash Blossom Pizza recipe from Saveur. Sounds good, right? I wasn’t in the mood for a tomato based sauce, though. Pesto sounded somehow more suitable for our warm weather.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, I found a recipe for Cilantro Pepita Pesto from Secondhand Goods. Perfect. Except that I wanted to use up some items already in the kitchen at home. Some arugula that was about to surrender to the hands of time. Also, sunflower seeds that were hanging out in the pantry. So, here’s the version of pesto I arrived at.
Cilantro Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup packed arugula
1 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Just load all the ingredients except the oil into the bowl of a food processor, and turn it on. While it’s running, drizzle in the olive oil adding more or less until you reach your preferred consistency. I like mine a little thicker. This recipe will likely make more than you need for your pizza. Use any leftover pesto to sauce pasta the next night.
Squash Blossom Pizza with Cilantro Arugula Pesto
Now, let’s make some pizza! To save even more time, I cheated and purchased some pre-made whole wheat pizza dough at my local supermarket. On a weeknight after a long day at work, do you blame me?
Cilantro Arugula Pesto
12 squash blossoms, stamens removed
1 pound burrata
Set a pizza stone on a rack in the middle of your oven, and turn on the broiler. This is a little trick someone taught me to quickly get the pizza stone hot and create a very crispy crust on your pizza.
While the stone is heating up, roll out your pizza dough. The dough I purchased made two 10” pizzas. Put a little cornmeal on a pizza peel. This prevents the dough from sticking to the surface. Place one portion of the rolled out pizza dough on the peel and spread 1/4 cup of the pesto on top leaving about a half inch border (of course, feel free to add more or less to your taste). Top with squash blossoms.
Change the temperature of the oven to 500°. Transfer pizza from the peel to the pizza stone in the oven and let bake for about 10 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Remove pizza from oven with the peel and top with chunks of burrata. Serve immediately.
On this warm summer’s eve, we enjoyed the pizza with a nice brut blanc de blanc sparkling wine. The palate cleansing bubbles complement the creamy mouth coating consistency of the cheese. Lambrusco would do the same, and pair nicely with the savory notes of the pizza.