This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those sticky Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert, while achieving rock star status along the way. If you are like me, your first exposure to figs was the famous Fig Newton. Can’t say I was really a fan. It was kind of gummy and way too seedy for a kid. But yet, against all odds, the Newton became a fan favorite. Must be all that sugar. What really surprises me though is that Newtons are almost always the end of the line for the poor fig. After childhood, we fickle feasters don’t look back and all too often have never seen a fresh fig, much less tasted one. I ran across them in the garden when staying with friends in Italy some thirty years ago. My hostess was not a fan of the texture, and I get that, especially if you pull it from the tree and chomp into it, apple-style. But the flavor!! Oh my. It is a perfect foil for a creamy rich blue cheese and some salty Prosciutto. Hmmm…let me think what else? Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Pizza dough? Now we’re cooking with gas!!!
Fresh figs have a fairly short season – found both in the spring and the fall, or if you are in Cali maybe a bit longer. They date back to 9000+ BC and were cultivated more than 1000 years before wheat or rye. Their existence is well documented from Aristotle to the art world. I mean, where would we be without fig leaves? Spanish missionaries brought them to the US in the late 1700s, where the Mission variety thrived in the California sunshine. To this day, Black Mission figs are among the most popular and that is what I used here.
Dried figs used to be a bit tough and required soaking (brandy wouldn’t be so bad) to use. But today there are unsulfured, wonderful, juicy varieties available in resealable pouches. Valley Fig offers organic dried Mission figs and Made in Nature offers dried Smyrna figs that are velvety and have “hints of honey, jam and butterscotch.” If you can’t find fresh figs, try chopping some of these in place of the fresh. As Made in Nature’s package says, “… congrats, nature. You really nailed it on this one.” They’re “figgin awesome.”
For the cheese, I used Cambozola, but there is a wide range of blues from which to choose, especially Stilton or Roquefort. I like the creaminess and richness of Cambozola as an offset to the salty meat and juicy fruit. This cow’s milk cheese, made in Germany, is a triple crème-ripened blue cheese and you might liken it to a cross between a blue and a brie. You would not be all wrong. While the name appears to be a portmanteau of Camembert and Gorgonzola given its similarity to the rich creaminess of Camembert and the blue bite of Gorgonzola, the name is also a nod to its terroir. It is made in Kempten (in Bavaria), whose Roman name is Cambodunum.
Fig Prosciutto Pizza
This is really another non-recipe recipe, which I know y’all love. Proportions are not essential when topping pizzas. Actually, even choosing the ingredients is not critically important. Just remember to aim for a balance of sweet, salty, fat and acid and a mix of textures, and if you dare, a contrast in temperatures. As written below, the jam provides sweetness; the cheese and meat are salty; the cheese adds creamy fat and richness; the vinegar add acid and serves as a light (just a drizzle) dressing for the arugula. The textures range from creamy to crispy, and the temperature is hot pizza with cold salad. Done and Done!
Let me know how it goes, and – as always – I love to read your comments on the website and see your photos on Instagram.
This Fig Prosciutto Pizza is a far cry from those gummy Newtons you grew up on. Sweet jammy fig butter, with crispy and salty Prosciutto, creamy rich Cambozola and fresh luscious figs let this pizza span a meal from appetizer to dessert.
1-pound fresh pizza dough (see notes)
11-ounce jar of Fig Butter (or fig jam) – may have leftovers
Favorite oil for drizzling on crust (I wouldn’t be mad if you used truffle oil once it comes out of the oven, but brush the crust with something less delicate before baking. Lemon oil is nice)
8 fresh figs, about 1/3 pound, sliced
1/2 pound Cambozola cheese, or other creamy blue like Gorgonzola
Flaky sea salt to finish – like my beloved Maldon’s
Preheat oven and pizza stone to 425oF. Check pizza dough directions to confirm this is best for your dough.
Lightly flour a work surface and stretch or roll the pizza dough into a 12” diameter round. If you are using the roll-out dough that comes in a popping-fresh canister, follow those directions and roll into a rectangle, but plan on using more topping ingredients. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled pan.
Spread the fig butter to create a thin layer, leaving a 1/2 “ border of dough around the outside. (See notes.) Brush the exposed outer ring of dough with a favorite oil.
Set the pan on the pizza stone and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is set.
Carefully remove from oven, adding the figs, some dollops of Cambozola and the Prosciutto. I like to take a half-slice of Prosciutto and twirl into a rosette, but some prefer to chop it and distribute the flavor more uniformly. Maybe you should be making two pizzas?
Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes or until the crust is golden and the Prosciutto starts to crisp. The cheese should be melty.
Remove from oven and top with the arugula. Drizzle with a balsamic reduction (or Crema di Balsamico) and sprinkle with a flaky finishing salt.
Dessert Pizza or Appetizer? Actually, I have served it both ways. Spread the fig butter according to taste and purpose. If you use the whole jar (don’t judge) it will be pretty sweet. But it will also be nice and jammy. Depending on your taste, you might want to load up a bit more on the salty items like the cheese and Prosciutto.
Trader Joe’s makes a great fresh pizza dough, stashed in the cheese and prepared food refrigerator case. You can find it made with white flour, whole wheat and even gluten-free.
Stonewall Kitchen makes a lovely Fig & Walnut Butter and Valley Fig offers three flavors of fig spread. For this test, I used the Trader Joe’s Fig Butter.
Bring your own pizza toppings. Pizza Party extraordinaire.
In case you haven’t guessed, these newfangled pot lucks (emphasis on the LUCKY, not the pot) are a big hit. Perhaps the reason typical pot lucks scare me just a wee bit is their origin. Historically, pot lucks date back to the European middle ages when nothing, but nothing, was thrown away. (Maybe we could take a tiny page from that lifestyle – I’m looking at you 40% food waste). Rather, leftovers were thrown into a pot and kept warm kind of indefinitely, available to any unplanned arrivals on short notice. This practice was especially prevalent in taverns and inns in medieval times, so no matter when you arrived, you could be treated to the “luck of the pot.” It’s entirely possible, to me at least, that modern day pot lucks could be of equally suspect food safety, never mind random items. But the Pot Lucky aims to change all that!
While on the subject of random items, who can forget the famous shrimp dip? My hosts, the charming Bob and Sally Oyler, were no doubt surprised when not only did a guest plop down a somewhat lame-ass (editorial comment mine, certainly not that of the gracious hosts) hors d’oeuvre smack dab in the middle of their fabulous holiday buffet, but said hors d’ was accompanied by kitschy recipe cards to take away. By the end of the party, pretty much every card remained – apparently not a dish that you really need (nor want, for that matter) a recipe for. And now, for more than 35 years, they have appeared in my mail, tucked inside Christmas cards from Sally, their daughter Barb, and most recently hand-delivered by a grandson, something of a recipe card mule, given he had no idea what was in the envelope he bore. I have gotten the last card from Sally, but trust, hope they will keep coming. Anybody want that recipe? I might have a few to share.
Like everything, pot lucks have a silver lining. The beauty of the pot luck is that it spreads both the effort and the expense and makes entertaining a you-don’t-have-to-be-Martha-Stewart snap. After the sausage making party and the soup swap, both definite fan faves, I landed on BYOPT – bring your own pizza toppings. A Pizza Party. “Best Party Ever”, according to one guest. I think part of the fun was that everyone got a quick turn at playing chef – drawing from the 40 some toppings, sauces, and cheeses that found their way to the kitchen island. And by playing chef, I mean this in the truest sense of the word – all the items were prepped (mise en place) and assembly is both the easy and the creative part. I committed to providing the dough (Trader’s Joe has fresh flour, whole wheat and herbed dough, as well as a frozen organic dough). Then I threw out some ideas for both pizza combos and individual toppings, organized by sauce/base, oils, toppings (veg and meat), and cheeses. You can plan it two ways – have people chose from a list of toppings and mix and match at the party, or have them bring enough for their own concoction and they are responsible for everything but the dough on that pie. We got a bit of both. Just a little coordination will keep you from having a lot of dupes.
I of course had to make a run to the Cheese Lady, not just for the fabulous ooey-gooey meltable cheeses, but also for her fine collection of oils and vinegars. I settled on a lemon oil (fabulous to drizzle with my lemon pistachio pesto) and a white truffle oil. Super aromatic oils like truffle need to be drizzled after the bake. They are too good to go on before the oven. Good news guys – a phone call to the Cheese Lady and these puppies can be on their way to you. They don’t ship cheeses, but do take phone orders on the wonderful assortment of oils and vinegars. There is a divine maple balsamic that makes a killer vinaigrette with the lemon oil, and the raspberry balsamic is wonderful drizzled into a seltzer. Super refreshing!
I had to get a couple cheeses that weren’t on my radar – one was meadowkaas which I did know about but didn’t expect to see til June. This is a special (aren’t they all?) style cheese that is made from the first milk from the cows that wander into North Holland’s (the Netherlands, not Michigan!!!) first grasses each spring. An importer found some 65 wheels from 2015 and upon Cheese Lady deeming it delish, they found their way to her. Yahoo! However, the other cheese I bought I had never heard – Kurpianka smoked cheese from Poland. Its touch of garlic and springy texture make it a perfect melting pizza cheese. Yum. Oh and it looks like a cheese grenade. I love that!
The most important detail you can tell your guests is to make sure the ingredients are “pizza-ready.” That means olives are pitted, zucchini and shiitake-types are quickly sautéed, and bacon is at least par-cooked. Otherwise you will get both a free for all with your limited space and a real mess. I considered a change of address halfway through the party. But a little organization goes a long way. I had a building station with sauces and oils, a topping station, a cutting station, a bar area, and a plates & salad serving area. My kitchen isn’t nearly as big as it sounds. But it worked – just barely. We had about 18 people and made about 13 pies. I find that so hard to believe because I swear I made 15 myself and ate at least 20. #CarbFreeMay
It helps to have some basic equipment – a Pizza Peel to transfer the prepped pizzas, a Pizza Stone or two (or three) always hot in the oven, pizza pans, and plenty of cutting boards and pizza wheels. Everyone brought what they had. I think there may have been six pies in the oven and two on the grill at one point. For the grilled pizza, we used the frozen dough. If you make your own or use fresh dough, it is best to roll it as thinly as you can and then freeze it to make a smooth transfer to the grill. Oil the grill and cook the dough on both sides to color and get grill marks. Then transfer to the building area where you can add toppings. Slide back on the grill and close the lid to melt the toppings. This will only take a few minutes. The oven (400-425oF) pizzas work well if you dust the peel with corn meal or make sure the dough is well floured and not sticky. Build the pie and slide onto the hot stones. All in all, it’s pretty neck-down in the execution, once you do a couple test pies to get down the technique.
We had some pretty fantastic Pizza Party toppings – here is a select list (email if you want my master list):
Sauces: red sauce, lemon ricotta, lemon pistachio pesto, fruit chutney, kale pesto, green olive tapenade, horseradish dill drizzle
Oils: EVOO, lemon oil, white truffle oil, Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil (divine on the butternut squash ribbon pie), chipotle oil, fig balsamic
Arugula, charred scallions, roasted garlic, sautéed shiitakes, grilled zucchini and yellow squash, you’ll thank me in the winter oven dried tomatoes, sautéed broccoli rabe, fresh basil, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted beets, dried figs, butternut squash ribbons (the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer worked perfectly), Brussels sprouts, smoked salmon, capers, roasted plums, radishes – wait…..seriously??? A partial list????
Pepperoni, prosciutto, shredded chicken, ham, bacon, sausage