brunch, mains

farmers’ market monday: butternut squash + sage puff pizza.

Please allow me to apologize for my radio silence these past few days. I normally post something mid-week (sometimes a few somethings), and I didn’t do that. Aside from life being its normal fever-pitchy self, I had an always-entertaining on again, off again headache. Not the ones that make you cry if you see a speck of light and make stuffed animals hitting the floor sound like gunblasts, no; rather, it was the sort that you can mostly function with, albeit poorly. So I could get through the day with some effort, but writing? Not a chance. Headaches like that allow me to go through the motions, but that doesn’t mean I can formulate complete sentences; certainly if I could manage to do that, I’d never commit whatever came out on (virtual) paper. So here we are, one week later, no posts until today. Please allow me to make it up to you.

When I’m feeling incredibly bad, I need food that doesn’t make me feel incredibly worse. I don’t feel like going to any trouble, mind you, but somehow I need to get decent food in my body to feel as good as is possible. This is tricky, because when I feel headachy, pouring a bowl of cereal can involve too much thought. So I stock up on fruit and veggies and greek yogurt and hope for the best, and I manage that way for breakfast and lunch. Dinner, though, seems to warrant something more, and cooking anything seems like way too much of a production.

Times like these call for puff pastry. Copious amounts of puff pastry. Someday I’ll learn how to make my own; this was decidedly not that week. This week was the week I continued to purchase perfectly lovely puff pastry from the market and make myself an incredibly easy dinner I knew would make me feel better. And how can you help but feel a little happier around puff pastry? It’s hard to be sad around something that flaky and delicious. It’s a mood-lifter.

You know what else brightens my spirits? Easy to make puff pastry pizza. Which is what I do when i need to relax, eat something delicious, and get well. Which is precisely what I did. This time, I made one of my favorite recipes from Gordon Ramsey Makes It Easy, and even if you feel only half-alive and have the energy of a geriatric slug, I promise you can make it with almost no effort. You basically throw ingredients onto a surface, pop that surface in the oven, and let the magic of The Puff do your work for you. You feel better already; I know.

So here is my feel-better pizza, and thank goodness it’s close enough to autumn that the butternut squash is plentiful. The sage I get from my garden and freeze (so I have it all winter), and the cheese? Buy whatever you want. I like a nice english cheddar; sometimes smoked, sometimes not. I’ve also used gouda and provolone, with good results. If you want it a bit lighter on the cheese, use a little mozzarella and some fresh parmesan.

Now; breaking down a butternut is not something someone with a headache should do. Indeed, you could lose fingers if you’re not at 100% power. Thankfully, many grocers offer fresh, pre-cubed butternut squash for you to buy. If your grocer doesn’t, then have someone else do the dirty work for you. Use a careful hand with the sage: a little goes a long way, and too much can overpower your pizza. Start with a few leaves and garnish with more if you like. I also make sure to season my squash when it’s sweating out in the pan, and I season the entire pizza before serving; I think it helps to bring out the flavor of the squash a bit more than just seasoning the final product.

And thank you: I feel much more normal now. The headache bid me adieu on saturday, and sunday was almost cartoonishly lovely around here. Highs in the 70’s, crystal blue skies, the works. I literally got up, watched The Sound of Music while cleaning (complete with serenades by yours truly when the songs came on; I’m surprised Mr. Table still lives here. If you’re wondering, I kill it with “The Lonely Goatherd”), went jogging with the Wee One, and got tons of writing done. Most importantly, I finally finished the second section of the cookbook library I began working on earlier in the week! You’ll see a drop-down menu now, and both The Celebrity Collection and The Williams Sonoma Collection are out there for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! You all were so sweet and encouraging and excited when the first section came out, that you make writing them that much more fun for me. There should be a few more cookbook sections out in the coming weeks, and if I’m feeling really productive, there may be an extra one I haven’t told you about yet.

Thanks, guys. I made you pizza. I hope your week bears such awesome things that you want to sing loudly to The Sound of Music as well.

Adapted, and only slightly, from Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy by, you guessed it; Gordon Ramsay.

Butternut Squash + Sage Puff Pizza

  • 1 store-bought puff pastry dough (usually this comes in a pack of two), thawed according to package instructions
  • 1 average-size butternut squash (to yield around 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 ounces (or thereabouts) english cheddar (you can use smoked english cheddar, smoked gouda, et cetera. go wild)
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water, beaten together for egg wash
  • 4 leaves fresh sage, minced, plus a few extra leaves for garnish (garnish optional)
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. At this point, make sure you have your puff pastry thawing out on the countertop somewhere. I forget sometimes.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, and sweat gently for about 5 minutes or so, just to start them cooking. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Roll out your puff pastry on a lightly floured surface (when thawed) to a rectangle, about 12 inches by maybe 8 inches, or choose whatever size, really, you want: it will work no matter what, just don’t roll it too thin. Using a sharp knife, like a paring knife, mark a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the pastry without cutting all the way through. Brush that outer border with egg wash.

Sprinkle about half your cheese on the pastry within the border and top with desired amount of squash: you may have some left over which you could finish cooking and use for another purpose. Don’t overfill, but your squash should be plentiful (see photos above). Sprinkle the minced sage over top and sprinkle maybe half of the cheese you have left over as well. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until edges are a deep golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and place back in the oven for 3-5 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove from oven, garnish with sage leaves (optional) and serve immediately.

Depending on how you roll it out, this could serve 3-5 as a main dish. I like it alongside a green salad with a little balsamic vinaigrette and some shaved parmesan, but that’s just me.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina September 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    So, the first weekend in October, I have a foodie event that I need to make something orange for. Ummm, hello? You’re speaking to me. THIS is orange.

    In other news, I hope you’re feeling better. I don’t like those headaches.

    • Reply shannon September 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      this would be PERFECT for an orange-themed food! I daresay sweet potatoes would also be a good orange thing, and i’ve thought about doing a sweet potato version of this. and you could do sweet or savory. If you make this, i would be honored. Right now, i feel like anything “puffy” really embodies me. 🙂

      i am, thank you. and right back at you; we’ve both been a little near-death recently. here’s to us feeling much better this week.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog September 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Headaches. Boo! There’s nothing that says “I’m sorry” better than puff pastry and cheese. Glad you’re back and feeling good.

    Can I come sing with you? I’m not good at it, but I love to belt out an off key tune. We can sing while we jog.

    • Reply shannon September 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Total boo! first i was sad, then i was MAD at the headache after a few days. It interrupts everything, right? thinking, cooking, jogging (because you’re like, an IronWoman, but i can’t do my normal walk/jog when my head hurts)…all of it. I feel SO happy to be back in the swing of things; i ran a little bit just for you yesterday. up HILLS, even.

      absolutely, please come sing with me; i’d love to have a partner! it would make my jogging go faster, for sure. I talk to myself when jogging anyway, just to distract from the task at hand. singing tunes? even better.

  • Reply sara September 10, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Gorgeous! Hope you are feeling better soon. 🙁

    • Reply shannon September 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      thank you, sara! i am feeling much better now, thank you; takes me a second to snap out of headaches, but i feel ten times better this week. I think all that butternut squash must have medicinal qualities…:)

  • Reply Brianne September 10, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    I’m glad you’re feeling better! Remember when your farmers market mondays were full of tomatoes and corn and basil and all of that summer goodness? This one isn’t. This is FALL. Oh, goodness. I am not ready for fall. It’s been chilly up here already! That being said, I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses as the days get shorter and colder.

    • Reply shannon September 11, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      thanks! and i know – i recently looked back through all the farmers’ market monday posts and the progression has been so much fun for me to see. This is probably my first “official” fall post; the oatmeal was more of a year-round one, and it straddled the summer/fall line a bit. it’s been chilly here too! I think that’s what prompted my dipping into fall flavors; at the first chilly day, my sweaters come out and i start thinking of what i’ll be making for thanksgiving.

      i’m looking forward to figuring out where to go with this series, also; i suppose it has to end when most of our farmers’ markets close up (November 1) but i’ve been having so much fun with it and have learned so much by making myself really go with what’s in season, i don’t want to let it go. So…jury = out. but i’m pondering the direction, so we’ll see.

  • Reply Emma September 11, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I love buying puff pastry. It’s one of the only areas where I allow myself to cheat, and mostly because it makes so much sense. But it does feel a bit like cheating, doesn’t it? Sneaking a package out of the freezer at the store?

    Neat looking pizza that could be adapted in so many ways. Cheers to a headache-free week!

    • Reply shannon September 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      store-bought puff pastry is the BEST. I have a cookbook which explains how to make it, but i’m all “why go to that much trouble to make something I end up either throwing ham and cheese on, or making butternut pizza out of?” it seems like I would be wasting it if i were to make it from scratch. And so, i cheat. And i don’t even feel bad about it.

      Thanks! so true; this one could pretty much contain anything your little heart desires. I’m thinking about making a sweet counterpart to this in the near future…hmmm.

      Cheers big-time! so far, i’ve been pain-free since sunday, and i’m thrilled. headaches bum me out. I hope you’re feeling better with your “ailment” (because i still think a pulled stomach muscle is tremendously awesome). 🙂

  • Reply Katherine @ eggton September 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm


    We got the first butternut squash of the season in our CSA share last week. I was ecstatic. Butternut squashes are one of my favorite things about fall.

    I get a headache just thinking about running up a hill, by the way.

    your loyal reader and renowned geriatric slug, Katherine

    • Reply shannon September 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      mine as well; i love roasting butternut squash. really, i’m a squash fan in general, but butternut seems to be the most versatile. i’ve heard you can even put it into chocolate chip cookies, but i’ve never tried it.

      i should qualify my hill comment by saying that it was what some would describe as an “abbreviated hill.” so…the ground went up for a few paces. and then, it flattened out and went down again. I tried a second one….the geriatric slug moves kicked in. didn’t make it. i tried and that’s probably the most important part.

      your fellow geriatric slug. i am thankful there are at least two of us out there.

  • Reply TastefullyJulie September 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

    You had me at Gordon Ramsay. Love him! And this does look super easy and delicious. I hope the headaches stay away!

    • Reply shannon September 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      thanks, julie! so far, i’m doing good at keeping the headaches at bay (but we’ve had delightful weather that’s been free from big swings in the pressure, so that helps.)
      i adore that man, right? you have to love someone who can take like, basically no ingredients and make something amazing. also, he’s cute. 🙂

  • Reply movita beaucoup September 13, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    I could use this pizza right now. My head hurts from yeast and flour exposure….

  • Leave a Reply