First of all, I have to thank CSA member Katie Pridemore for sharing her version of this recipe on the Signal Mountain Farm Facebook page. Hers was the inspiration for this post and a link to her recipe is posted at the bottom half of this page. I played around with the idea of using a non-dairy version of a squash fritter for the crust, and after testing several cooking methods, was decidedly in favor of a pan-fried, individual sized "pizza." The squash crust is delicious made with cheese, but if you are looking for a dairy free, or lower saturated fat base for your toppings, this one is perfect. With the addition of lentils, the fritters become a filling meal all by themselves. Topping the crispy goodness with pesto, fresh mozzarella, marinated tomatoes and fresh basil make the whole combination positively sublime. This recipe makes about eight 7-inch pizza bases.
Squash fritter ingredients: 4 cups squash or zucchini, grated 1 cup dry red lentils 1/2 cup finely chopped onion 1/2 cup canola, olive or peanut oil 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 3 medium farm-fresh eggs Sea salt & black pepper to taste More oil for frying
Method: Grate the squash or zucchini or shred in a food processor. Put the grated squash in a colander and salt well. Let stand for at least one hour. Meanwhile, place the dry lentils in a medium sized bowl with two to three cups of boiling water. Cover and let stand for one hour, or until they have absorbed most of the water. Once the lentils have soaked up most of the moisture, drain, then place in a blender or food processor and pulse until they are mostly ground up.
To wring the moisture out of the squash, you can use cheesecloth or several layers of strong paper towels. If you use cheesecloth, there is a good illustrative photograph on the Smitten Kitchen post for zucchini fritters. I used two layers of Viva paper towels (about 2 1/2 feet long). Spread the squash evenly over the length of the paper towels, then begin rolling from one end. While holding the rolled bundle of squash and paper towels (or cheesecloth) over the sink, gently squeeze until most of the moisture is extracted. When you unroll the bundle, most of the squash should clump together and separate easily from the paper towel. Place the squash in a large bowl with the chopped onion, ground lentils, oil, flour, baking powder, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients together.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with oil and heat the pan on medium to medium-high heat. The batter can be fried by the spoonful for an appetizer or snack-sized fritter. To make a small pizza base, use 1/2 cup of batter. After pouring into the heated skillet, press gently with a fork to spread it evenly to about 1/4 -1/2 inch thick. Let cook until it gets crispy and browned, then flip quickly with a wide spatula. Let brown on the other side, then remove from the pan and place on paper towel to blot the oil.
Top the pizzas with your favorite toppings and place on a baking sheet or stone. For a toaster oven, put it on the "toast" setting (425 degrees) or broil in a conventional oven. Cook until the cheese is melted and the toppings are hot.
If you want to try the cheesy version of the crust without lentils, try Katie's Squash Pizza Crust, borrowed from Allrecipes.com (She topped the squash crust with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and dried herbs.)
Other topping ideas: Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced Artichoke hearts Kalamata olives Fresh spinach