Dressing pizza up for company Entertaining: Squash, bacon and onions turn a casual favorite into a supper suitable for guests.

November 08, 1998|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Good friends, who are coming to visit in a few weeks, called recently to say they could not arrive before 8 Friday evening.

Immediately, I knew that the original menu I had planned (when a late-afternoon arrival was expected) would have to be changed to lighter, quicker fare. I finally decided on pizzas topped with caramelized onions, sauteed squash, diced tomatoes, crumbled bacon and shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Both my husband and I loved the melange of autumn colors and the robust taste of this dish, so I reasoned it would be perfect to start the weekend with our out-of-town friends.

Most of the work for the pizzas can be done in advance. You can fry bacon, brown onions and saute squash, as well as dice tomatoes and shred cheese, early in the day, so only a quick assembly is necessary at serving time.

Although I am crazy about homemade pizza dough, which I like TTC to roll out quite thin, you can, instead, use cooked pizza shells, which are sold in most supermarkets.

Another timesaver would be to buy peeled, seeded butternut squash; markets in my area have begun packaging winter squash in this convenient way.

These pizzas make a simple, delicious main course for casual entertaining, but they could also be cut into smaller servings to offer as appetizers.

Pizzas With Butternut Squash, Bacon, Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions

Serves 4

2 pizza shells

TOPPING:

6 thick or 8 thin slices bacon (about 6 ounces)

3 1/2 to 4 cups peeled, cubed

(1/2-inch dice) butternut squash (about 1 3/4 pounds)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice

11/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 large onions (1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Fry bacon in large, heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel and crumble. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings in pan, but reserve extra drippings. Heat until hot. Add squash and cook and stir until squash is just tender but not mushy, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to bowl. Stir in tomatoes, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, several grinds pepper and vinegar. Set aside.

Add another 1 tablespoon drippings to same skillet. Set over medium heat, and when hot, add onions and sugar and saute, stirring, until softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread half of onions over top of each pizza, then spread half of squash mixture over onions. Sprinkle each pizza with half of cheese and half of crumbled bacon. Return to oven and bake until crusts are crisp and cheese has melted, 5 to 8 minutes more. Remove and slice each pizza into 6 wedges.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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