Butternut squash and sage pizza with caramelized onions and smoky white pizza sauce

by Stephanie Weaver on November 24, 2012

Smoky butternut squash pizza with sage ribbons and caramelized onionsWhen 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? It’s all that, and more. If you have ever had pizza with barbecue sauce and smoked gouda, this is served right next door. This is a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers, too.

I am grateful to Vegan Coach for giving me the general idea for this sauce. 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 Udi’s frozen gluten-free pizza crust, which would be vegan except for the egg whites. In the past I have used Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix, which can be easily made vegan by using flax meal instead of eggs. With a frozen crust, just let it thaw while you make the sauce and saute any veggies you want on top. For a gluten-free crust mix, follow package directions. I usually pre-bake those about 10 minutes on parchment on a baking sheet, then 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, usually more like 15 or 20.

Butternut squash and sage pizza with caramelized onions and smoky white pizza sauce
Serves 2

1/4 butternut squash, peeled, cut in pieces and roasted until tender
1 small red onion
handful fresh sage leaves
Smoky white pizza sauce, recipe follows
1 gluten-free pizza crust

Put the cashews for the pizza sauce in water to soak (see recipe below). While they are soaking…

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.

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.)

Thinly slice the roasted squash pieces.

Thinly slice the sage leaves into ribbons.

Thinly sliced sage ribbons for pizza

Sage leaves are stacked then sliced into thin ribbons

Make the smoky pizza sauce (recipe below). Spread the sauce on the pizza crust, and top with squash, caramelized onions, and sage ribbons.
Butternut squash pizza before bakingPut 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
Makes enough for one large or two small pizzas

1 C. (112 g) raw cashews
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 T. (6 g) nutritional yeast
2 T. (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 T. (20 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos or gluten-free soy sauce
1 T. (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, or oil from sun-dried tomatoes
1 t. (2 g) smoked paprika, optional
1/4 t. (1.25 ml) liquid smoke
2 T. (30 ml) filtered water

Soak the cashews in 1 C. (250 ml) of filtered water for at least 30 minutes. Drain the cashews, reserving the water.

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.

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 recipe and add more of the water to make a dip, a pasta/casserole sauce, or even a thin dressing. It’s so good I have WOW! written next to it on my scratch pad. 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. If you are sensitive to garlic, you can omit it and the sauce is still delicious.

Quick soup recipe: Last but not least, don’t wash the blender! Toss in any unused roasted veggies after you have scraped out this sauce, along with any cooked onions you didn’t use. Add just enough non-dairy milk to begin blending. Add a bit more milk or filtered water to create a rich creamy soup.

All of our recipes are gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with plant-based ingredients to help you build a healthy life. We support Meatless Monday. Look for midweek essays and Friday how-to and giveaways (when available).

Make sure you buy nutritional yeast that is gluten-free, like this one from Bragg’s:

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