By Adrienne Flowers
Autumn is a time for gathering up the last bits of sunshine and storing them away for the long winter ahead. How perfect it is, then, that the autumn harvest shines with oranges, reds and golds. So many names of fall fruits, flowers and vegetables evoke the colors of the sun: ginger gold and red delicious apples, kiwi gold raspberries, butternut and buttercup squash and, of course, sunflowers. In our eagerness to reach for those last rays of sun, we are drawn to orchards and farms to celebrate the last of the year’s warmth.
One of my family’s favorite places for sunshine gathering is Riverview Farm in Plainfield, N.H. It is there that I first noticed the preponderance of golden appellations for fall produce. Riverview Farm has all of the aforementioned produce, as well as many more varieties of apples, blueberries, fall red raspberries, pumpkins, squash, cider and flowers as well as a corn maze. You may pick your own or buy at the stand, but wandering around the farm, picking and sampling produce is a lovely way to spend an autumn day. My children love tasting the different varieties of apples, choosing the sunniest sunflower and gorging on — ahem…I mean, picking — berries. We usually leave Riverview weighed down by bags of fruits and flowers, but at least once every year I buy a butternut squash to make a particular fall pizza that glows with color.
I first had this pizza at the American Flatbread restaurant in Waitsfield, Vt., and knew that I needed to make it at home. Sweet squash and browned onions balance out salty Kalamata olives and pungent rosemary. Best of all, kids love it and they can help in almost every step of the recipe. My four-year-old daughter scoops out the seeds of the squash, chops up the olives, spreads the olive oil and sprinkles the rosemary and cheeses.
Pizza dough is a year-round staple at our house. Sometimes we buy our own, but then we miss out on dusting our entire kitchen — and its inhabitants — in flour. Even the dog lets out little puffs of flour as he walks by on pizza dough making day. If we have the energy to face the mess, making pizza dough offers a great opportunity for kids to be involved in the kitchen. Kneading the dough is a step in which even my one-year-old can participate; the process of pulling, folding and turning the dough is satisfying for all. There are loads of recipes for delicious pizza crust out there as well as some very good premade dough in area grocery stores.
I confess that my family is a little fanatical about autumn. Both children were born in the fall. We gave our son the middle name, “Russet,” in celebration of the apple variety as well as of the colors of the season in which he was born. It was fitting, then, that one of his first words was “apple.” My daughter regularly asks for candy corn on her birthday cake and once ate a mistakenly unsweetened pumpkin pie with gusto.
If the confluence of families at Riverview on fall weekends is any indication, we share our passion with many others who anticipate a long, cold New England winter. So head to Riverview Farm, gather the last of the warm sunshine and savor the golden feast.
Butternut Squash Fall Pizza
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ lb. pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1 small butternut squash
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Handful of cornmeal
Enough pizza dough for a large pizza (We prefer whole wheat for this pizza)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the skin and seeds from the squash and chop into bite-sized pieces. Steam until tender, about 20 minutes, and set aside. Spread cornmeal over a baking sheet or pizza pan and stretch out the dough to fit. Drizzle oil over dough. Sprinkle evenly with black pepper and crumbled rosemary. Massage into dough. Layer first the olives, then the goat cheese broken into small clumps, then the mozzarella, then the squash, then the onion. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the crust is done and the onions begin to brown.
Adrienne Flower lives along the Connecticut River with her husband, two small children, and dog Barley.