I’ve been seeing fresh figs pop up all over lately – which is one of many official signs of fall. It reminds me of this time of year as a young girl in my grandparent’s backyard. For as long as I can remember, my grandfather nurtured two fig trees that made September a month to look forward to. One Black Mission and the other a White Fig, we watched and waited for them to ripen and ripped the stems off with anticipation. I was taught to stem them, tear them in half and inspect closely for nestling bugs. All clear, we ate them straight from the branch and took extras home in recycled egg cartons – designed perfectly to house this fragile fruit along its travels.
Right now on the Eastern Shore, Cottingham Farm is killing it with their fresh organic figs. I first laid eyes on them last week at a food demo at one of my favorite spots in town,The Bartlett Pear. They were gigantic – as in, I’ve literally never seen a fig so large in my lifetime. They were supple, plump and when I bit into the first one it was already like fig jam – sweet, juicy and possessing the most perfect texture. I had to grab a few pints of them and figure out how to give them adequate glory. My happy, plump figs and I went home and decided to make a pizza (which was a little spontaneous, but I had everything at home except a little goat cheese which I had envisioned working perfectly to savor up this sweet, bursting figgy flavor). So I grabbed some from the market on my way out.
I grabbed a bunch of random items from my kitchen and herb garden: some fresh rosemary & basil, a sweet onion and I happened to have some pancetta leftover from a Brussels sprouts experiment from the week before. This was going to be a hall-of-fame-I-just-scraped-this-together kind of dinner.
Now, you don’t have to make pizza dough from scratch to enjoy this pizza but it sure is amazing if you do. I use a recipe developed by Bobby Flay and I don’t change a thing because it’s the most amazing, velvety and fluffy dough out there and it only takes an hour to rise. When I really have my act together, I will make this dough a few hours in advance because the more time you give it the more enormous and fabulously easy to manipulate it becomes, but if you only have an hour and you’re running in from work, you can definitely make this happen if you mix this up shortly after you get home. Conversely, you can also plan to do this with a frozen dough or a store bought fresh dough and you’ll still have yourself a nice little pizza.
A note on the caramelized onions: the name of the game is low and slow here. You want to let those babies really sweat out as they cook without burning if you want that sweet and tender flavor. And you do want that sweet and tender flavor.
This pizza is definitely a winner combination of ingredients and since we’re heading into a mild fall-weathered weekend, why not fire up the oven and treat yourself to a flatbread full of figgies?
- Fresh Pizza Dough (you can use store bought or thawed frozen dough)
- ½ lb Thinly Sliced Pancetta
- ½ Medium Vidalia or Sweet Onion, sliced
- 1 Cup Ripe Organic Fresh Figs, stemmed & sliced
- 4 oz Fresh Goat Cheese
- 2 Cups Arugula
- ½ Cup of Fresh Basil Leaves, roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Spragues Fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1 and ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
- 1 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- Parchment Paper
- ¼ cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan set to low-medium. Add the sliced onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tsp of salt to begin sweating the onions. Stir occasionally and allow to slowly caramelize for 10-15 minutes. Once finished, set aside in a small dish.
- While the onions are caramelizing, sprinkle all-purpose flour over a large clean surface and roll out the dough. Roll thinly and shape it to fit your cooking sheet. I like to bake my flatbreads on a rectangular cookie sheet but a round pizza pan will work too. Line the pan with parchment paper, cover with a dish towel and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In the same pan you cooked the onions in, separate the slices of pancetta and sauté until browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Brush your dough with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Evenly top with sliced figs, crumbled goat cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary and browned pancetta. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Toss your basil, arugula, Pecorino Romano, remaining salt, pepper and olive oil in a large bowl and top your pizza with the fresh greens.
- 3½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 Package Instant Yeast
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1½ cups water at 110 degrees F
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (plus a little extra)
- Combine dry ingredients in a standing mixer with the dough attachment on and mix on medium speed. While mixer is on, add your heated water and olive oil and continue to mix until the dough forms a ball. If the dough isn’t the right consistency, you can add more flour to stiffen it, or more water (slowly!) to loosen it up. You want it to be moist but not sticky.
- Remove from the mixer and sprinkle 1-2 Tbsp of flour on a flat surface. Knead the dough until smooth. While holding the dough with both hands, stretch the dough downward toward the bottom of the boule and form a ball. Set dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for at least 1 hour (the longer the better – but your dough will be ready to rock and roll at 1 hour).
- Divide dough into two equal pieces and roll out on a floured surface to fit your baking sheet. Makes 2 pizzas.