When I catered holiday parties in the past, the menus usually centered around appetizers and salads. Those are my favorite party foods – always. And I think after all the sweets, people crave more savory party foods. I love, love, love using cheese in appetizers, especially for the holidays, for several reasons. First, most people love cheese. Or at least like it. Second, it creates a more filling, satisfying appetizer. And third, it goes well with just about everything. I’ve teamed up again with my friends at Pamela’s Products to create a gluten-free holiday appetizer using their fabulous pizza crust mix, and I create a simple Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Flatbread that uses fresh goat cheese, pomegranate seeds, almonds, and sprouts. (p.s. I’m giving away some of my favorite Pamela’s mixes – scroll down to enter!)
The holidays are always my favorite time for entertaining. I always dream of having my own big, lavish holiday parties, but in reality: I’m not Martha Stewart. I have to bring it down a little bit and think in realistic terms. I’m actually pretty introverted, so I much prefer being behind the scenes doing the cooking. When you come to my house, it may not be spotless and I may not be mingling much, but you can be sure there is always something delicious to eat and drink! In any case, I love this time of year because there are so many delicious ingredients to use in all sorts of ways. But as is always true, simple food tastes the best. And this may seem like a complicated recipe, but it’s actually easy to make and focuses on seasonal ingredients that are in their prime.
I’m calling this a flatbread, but it’s basically a fancy pizza. The gluten-free crust is super easy to make. I like being able to pull out a bag of Pamela’s when I’m making pizza or flatbread because it makes a delicious, chewy crust that is also sturdy enough to hold up to all those toppings!
This mix only requires warm water and olive oil – a yeast packet is included in the package. That hard work of coming up with the perfect blend of gluten-free flours and starches is done for you. All that’s left to do is mix it up, let it rise, and bake it. So it’s perfect for everyone, whether you are a master cook or a beginner!
Each layer of this (or really any) appetizer needs to have flavor. When I roast the butternut squash, I toss it with olive oil, dried herbs, a little maple syrup, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and plenty of salt and pepper. It’s not enough to just sprinkle it after. It needs it while it roasts too.
If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know that I have a love affair with goat cheese. Like, it’s hands down my favorite cheese. I know that may seem too bland or boring for someone who loves cheese, but I cannot help myself around it. I love the creamy tang. (I could go on forever about chevre, but I’ll leave it at that.) It makes a great creamy base for the roasted butternut squash.
While this would be good enough with just the goat cheese, roasted butternut, and a sprinkle of toasted almonds, I love adding some fresh elements, too. Because it’s the holidays, I wanted to add some seasonal red and green color. I thought of using a leafy green, but when I was at my co-op I noticed some tasty, fresh broccoli sprouts. Sprouts are a great thing to eat anytime, but especially during the winter. And of course, how I could leave out pomegranate seeds?! They are perfect little jewels and add a bright burst of flavor with every bite.
If you need some more gluten-free holiday recipe ideas, here are some others using Pamela’s that are perfect for a party!
And now, Pamela’s wants to give one of you a pack of three of their awesome mixes to help you with your holiday baking! I picked three of my favorites: Bread Mix (great for pie crusts), Baking and Pancake Mix (for biscuits, scones, pancakes, cakes), and Pizza Crust (so you can make this flatbread!). Enter the giveaway using the form below. Open to U.S. residents only. You can enter once a day. Giveaway ends on Wednesday, 12/16/2015 at 11:59 PM MST. Good luck!
- One package Pamela's Pizza Crust Mix
- Coarse cornmeal, for dusting
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (about 110-115°F)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (can use honey)
- 1 teaspoon dried sage (can use rosemary or thyme)
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 4 cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 5-6 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds
- ½ cup sprouts or microgreens
- Place Pizza Crust Mix, the included yeast packet, warm water, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or mixing bowl if using hand mixer or mixing by hand. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 30 seconds until completely combined. The dough will be very sticky. Scrape the dough into a ball on the bottom of the bowl and lightly coat with a little more olive oil. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- While dough is rising, prepare the roasted butternut squash. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the cubed squash with th remaining olive oil, maple syrup, dried sage, and nutmeg. Arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until tender and deep golden on the edges. Remove from oven and set aside until ready to use.
- To bake crust, turn oven to 450°F. Line a separate baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease well with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle the coarse cornmeal in an even layer over the parchment or pan.
- With oiled hands, carefully transfer the raised dough to the prepared baking sheet. Use your hands to press the dough into a rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick. Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then bake for 15-20 minutes. The crust won't be baked all of the way, but it should be golden on the edges. Remove from the oven.
- Spread the goat cheese evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the top with freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the roasted squash over the top in an even layer and top with toasted almond. Place back in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with pomegranate seeds and sprouts. Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature.
HOW TO PHOTOS + TIPS
It couldn’t be easier to mix up the crust. I prefer to use a hand mixer, but you can use a stand mixer or mix by hand. The dough is a dream to work with – just be sure to oil your hands and spatula a little bit because it is sticky.
Drizzle the top of the dough with a little olive oil. I make sure I coat the inside of the bowl as well. This keeps the dough from drying out as it rises.
You can cover it with plastic wrap or a towel. Place it somewhere warm to rise. During winter, my favorite place to put dough to rise is over a heating vent. Not too hot, not too chilly. Or if you’ve unloaded the dishwasher and it’s still warm in there, that’s an excellent place too.
You’ll know it’s ready when it’s doubled in size and bubbled up. You want to be careful not to squash the dough too much. Handle it as gently as possible. I like using parchment paper rather than oiling the baking sheet because it’s easy to transfer this way. The cornmeal adds a nice little crunch and keeps the dough from sticking. Patting the dough out with oiled hands works better than rolling. This dough is so soft and easy to work with.
Pamela’s recommends pre-baking the crust. After baking gluten-free crusts dozens of times, I concur. It’s much better to have a well-baked crust. Not only do they stand up better to the toppings, but they also taste better. This crust bakes up nicely with a great amount of “chew” to it, but pre-baking is essential to that. I roast the squash ahead of time so I have control over all of the elements. If you were using different toppings, you may want to alter the second baking time a little bit.
Only add the toppings that can sustain the high heat in the oven. You don’t want to cook the sprouts or the pomegranate seeds, but the squash and toasted almonds are fine in the quick stint in the oven.
And that’s it! A little bit of prep time, but super easy to make and completely delicious!
Disclosure: This recipe and giveaway are sponsored by Pamela’s Products as part of their Baking Partners program for 2015. All opinions expressed (and gushing) are 100% my own. I only work with brands I truly love and recommend.