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.
I can’t let #NationalSoupMonth roll by again without setting you up for another win. With only three types of onions and a couple of cans of tomatoes, this Cipolline Onion Soup will surprise you with its stick-to-the-ribs quality. Have you thought about having a Soup Pot Lucky yet? Trust me, it’s a great way to fill your freezer with soups in oh so many flavors. Traditionally, onion soups are topped with a crusty bread slice and some melty cheese. What’s wrong with that? Well, uh, nothing. But can it be better? Yes, it can! How about creating a “crouton” out of prosciutto topped with Gruyere and Parmesan that has taken its turn under the broiler. Oh yeah! I’m talking crispy pork and melty cheese. Game over!
Best Onions for Onion Soup
Onion soup is most commonly made with Vidalia or Spanish onions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. They both bring a certain level of sweetness which provides a nice layered flavor when offset by the wine used to deglaze the pan. But I recently spied some boxes of cipolline onions from our friends at Melissa’s at my local grocery. Yaaas! I bought a mixture of cipolline, some large Spanish onions and a few shallots for this soup. When picking cipolline, like other root vegetables, choose onions that are firm and show no signs of moisture, green shoots, or dark spots. Humidity is no BFF to onions or garlic, so it’s best to store them outside the fridge in a cool place to extend their life. If you are worried about peeling all those small flat cipollines – or if you ever have shied away from pearl onions just because of the peeling process – check out my notes in the first step of the recipe below.
With all the sweetness from the three types of onions, I chose port wine to deglaze the pan. Adding a liquid to the pan after caramelizing the onions makes it easy to scrape up all those flavorful brown bits stuck in the pan. Don’t leave that behind! We work hard for that fond. You could also use a red wine in this recipe, but port is fortified and adds a robust depth of flavor, elevating simple ingredients to something more sublime.
Once you brown the onions, the rest is pretty much a dump and simmer recipe. It takes some time – an hour of simmering – to reduce the liquid and develop the rich flavors, but you just need to throw a little side-eye in the pot’s direction from time to time. It doesn’t need your full attention.
Swap Your Top
I love the idea of replacing a soggy – although admittedly tasty – blob of bread with a crispy prosciutto crust on top of the onion soup. Just fold a piece of prosciutto to double it up, then top with grated Gruyere and Parmesan and run it under the broiler. You will NOT be sorry.
Trim, peel and slice thinly. To peel the cipolline onions easily, trim the root end and drop in boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Spread the cipollines out on a towel to dry. The skin should slip off quite easily at this point. To make slicing more stable, cut the cipollines in half from root to stem and lay cut side down on a cutting board. Slice cross-wise into half rings.
Divide butter between two heavy-bottom stockpots (or one stockpot and one large skillet). Likewise, divide both kinds of onions and the shallots between the pans, and sauté until deeply golden brown, about 20 – 25 minutes.
Deglaze the pans:
Divide the port between pans, and reduce until almost evaporated, scraping up brown bits. Transfer all onions to one stockpot.
Add tomatoes and simmer 5 minutes.
Puree 2 cups of the onion-tomato mixture with 2 cups beef stock and add puree back to stockpot. Alternatively, add 2 cups beef stock to the pot and pulse with an immersion blender a couple times to thicken the mixture, while leaving lots of texture in tact. Add remaining beef stock, thyme and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Fold each prosciutto slice in half and arrange on a foil-lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with Gruyere and about half the Parmesan. Melt the cheese until bubbly and the prosciutto starts to crisp under the broiler.
Divide the soup between bowls and float a prosciutto on each bowl. Sprinkle lightly with remaining Parmesan and top with chopped parsley.
I divided the onions into two pans while browning to increase the cooking surface area. This will prevent sweating (instead of the intended browning) the onions which happens when you do too many at once. If you want to keep this to one pot, you could also do this in batches.
If you are not a fan of prosciutto, you can old-school it with toasted baguette slices topped with the cheeses and popped under the broiler. And if you are vegan, skip the butter in favor of olive oil, use vegetable stock, and ditch the toppings altogether. The soup has layered flavors and is yummy with or without the toppings.
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 45 minutes
Here are some other great soups to fill your freezer. I make a big pot almost every Sunday and freeze most of it in 2-4 portion containers so that I always have a half-dozen flavors on demand. Just take it out in the morning and put it in the fridge to thaw, and you will be set for a hearty dinner when you get home.
Prosciutto Pesto Puffs!! Prosciutto Pesto Poppers?? Puffs or Poppers? Mmmmmm, I can kind of go either way. In support of Puffs, these tasty little morsels are light and puffy. But, don’t discount Poppers; the journey from cutting board to platter is anything but guaranteed – see Open Wide above. I say you get 3 dozen pieces, but do you??? What if you don’t? Who will know? Most importantly, this quick and easy app includes the four food groups (remember those?) – cheese and dough, pesto and pig. Riiiiiiiiight?? I know I had you at cheese and dough.
Who among you doesn’t have some version of those four things in-house at all times? Don’t make me come over there! I know by now I have cultivated at least some level of pantry-responsibility in you. Personally I am still working through pizza dough from last month’s Pizzapalooza/Bring Your Own Pizza Toppings pot lucky. I was so uber prepped that I ended up with another half dozen crusts in the freezer. But this dish disappears so quickly you can short cut my Trader Joe’s dough short cut and just grab the poppin’ fresh variety. It would be a crime against your calendar to make dough for this from scratch.
And pesto…I’m just about at the end of the stash of Pistachio Lemon Pesto I put away last fall. But for this I used an arugula pepita pesto –Y.U.M. – that was a contribution to the pizza party. Any combo of greens and nuts or seeds will work. Just follow the basic proportions in this recipe. The sassier the better. And, of course, you will get more depth of flavor if you toast the nuts or seeds first. But if you are short-changed on time, supermarket pesto ain’t half bad. We’re on the clock, people! We got PopperPuffs to make.
Then there’s the pig – let’s just go straight for prosciutto and stop there. But of course you could use salami, ham, anything that is cooked or cured. Raw bacon would be a mess. Smoked turkey would be a delish sub, or roasted peppers and thoroughly drained spinach if you are vegetarian.
Vegans however need not apply. This PopperPuff screams for cheese. I met and love-@first-sight’d this dish about 8 years ago when my then 14-year old neighbor Allison whipped up a larger version, stromboli-like, and appeared for a boat ride with a hamper-full. All the adults were stunned. What? Is? This? Cheesy? Goodness? It’s possible I broke a bicep shoveling in the gooey slices. Ever since, we have called this (or any interpretation of) the Ali Roll.
It recently occurred to me it was a tad bit – don’t judge me on what I am about to say – too gooey. I know. I know. But more because the center stays a bit dough-y than that there is too much cheese. Heaven forbid! So for a Memorial Day app exchange – which had nothing to do with technology – I decided to whittle this down to bite-size, and the results were a crowd-pleaser. The pieces were also less daunting than a slice 4+ inches wide which is considered bite-size in fewer and fewer circles these days.
Feel free to swap out all the fillings. This dish is pretty indestructible. I haven’t tried it but am fairly certain you could make the logs and freeze them, then bake frozen. Or you could bake it off, slice and freeze in an airtight container. These are good warm-from-the-oven or at room temperature.
While not gourmet per se, this is squarely in the category my friend Cindy calls “People Love It”.
Prosciutto Pesto Puffs
13.8 ounce can of classic pizza dough (or equivalent fresh dough)
2/3 cup pesto
½ pound prosciutto, thinly sliced, (includes a bit extra for snacking)
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella*
Good olive oil, salt flakes and crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425o.
Roll or stretch dough into a 12” by 14” rectangle.
Cut in thirds lengthwise, creating three 4 x 14 strips.
Divide the pesto between the three strips and spread evenly. Leave a ¾” edge pesto-free along the far (long side) of each strip.
Cover the pesto area on each strip with prosciutto – about 4 slices per strip. It’s okay to overlap a bit.
Divide the grated mozzarella between the three strips and sprinkle on top of the prosciutto.
Working with one strip at a time, tightly roll toward the pesto-free zone, creating a 14” long log. Tuck the ends under and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other two strips.
Brush the logs with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (I like Maldon Sea Salt Flakes ) and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.
Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan about half way through.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. When cool enough to handle, transfer the logs off the baking sheet onto the wire rack . Let rest 10 minutes all together.
Slice into 12 slices per log. Stand back and relish the high praise.
*When asked on that maiden Ali-Roll voyage, the Ali-Roll Mistress herself instructed me to use “grocery store mozzarella for best melting.” Sure, you could fancy it up with fresh mozz, but you still won’t have leftovers.
Makes 3 dozen PopperPuffs.
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Okay, there is a reason search engines hate me. I just don’t play by their rules. But I am sorry – who wants to see a headline about Brussels sprouts? Bo. Ring. Although this dish is anything but. It’s actually my brother who calls them Barbie Doll heads – what would I know? My idea of repurposing Barbie is to ram a rod up her and put a shade with some nice piano fringe on top. #AmIRite? That “Solo in the Spotlight” outfit was made to be a lamp. Well that and the fact I never really forgave her for the mic drop she pulled on the way to kindergarten. That microphone was integral to the outfit.
It’s a perfect time of year to find fresh Brussels sprouts – on or off the stalk. I found these at one of our winter indoor markets, grown by Blackbird Farms. A dish like this is so simple and undemanding that it fits holiday entertaining quite well.
Brussels sprouts date back to the late 16th century – thought to be native to Belgium, hence the capital name. They are high in Vitamins C and K, high in fiber, and like other cruciferous vegetables, associated with cancer prevention. But the important part is they are tasty. I like to roast them to get a nutty slightly charred taste, but you can also steam, sauté, and even remove the leaves and blanch them. Patrick O’Connell from the legendary Inn at Little Washington has a recipe in one of his books for Brussels Sprout Petals with Coriander Vinaigrette and Pickled Cranberries. It is quite delish and lucky for you, he featured it during an NPR interview so no need to buy the book (well there are plenty of reasons to buy the book, but just not for that recipe). Patrick serves it cold, but it would be a fantastic side vegetable, served warm, on your holiday buffet.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Prosciutto
Toss the sprouts with 1 ½ Tablespoons of EVOO, salt and pepper. Arrange on a sheet pan and roast, shaking periodically, until tender and slightly charred, about 20-30 minutes, depending on size and freshness.
Heat the remaining ½ Tablespoon of EVOO and sauté shallots until browned. Add the prosciutto and continue sautéing until it becomes a bit crispy.
Add the roasted sprouts to the pan and stir to toss well. Drizzle with fig Balsamic vinegar, to taste. Adjust seasonings, as needed.