How do you feel about foods that are both sweet and savory? Children don’t usually like them. They want pizza to have tomato sauce and mozzarella and maybe some pepperoni. And they want sweets to be chocolate or vanilla. Kids often like sour, too. The other day, I saw a tiny baby sucking on a big pickle.
As we get more experience as eaters, depending on culture, we develop more interest in combining flavors. Lots of Asian cuisines combine sour, sweet, salty and umami in just about every dish, and most of us love these foods once we taste them. Think Pad Thai, peanut sauce, chinese style pork ribs… In Italy and Spain, we find cured ham with melon. In Morrocco, the strange, but delicious, bastilla.
Fruit and cheese compliment each other perfectly. And together, they beg for some crusty bread. So, I put all three together, and was surprised that they became greater than the sum of their parts.
A roasted fig is a heavenly object. It becomes jammy, and highlighted by caramel, like a good dessert wine. Good Parmesan melted on a crust of bread is food for gods. Put them together and you get cheesy, toasty, syrupy magic. Deep savory and complex sweetness perfectly entwine. This is food for grownups. But don’t be surprised if the kids like it, too!!**
**And speaking of the kids, I made a tomato variation that will make them happy. Just swap cherry or grape tomato halves for the figs.
This recipe makes two pies, around 8 inches each. It will serve 4 with a salad for supper or 8 or so people for appetizers. You could probably eat a whole one if you’re really hungry.
I’m gonna do a sourdough post one of these days. But until then, I’m giving you crust recipes from my favorite sources. Here’s a great sourdough pizza crust from King Arthur Flour.
If you don’t have sourdough going, this KAF crust is nice.
And here’s a gluten free one.
Cook’s Illustrated has a great recipe, but you’ll have some left for an extra small pie.
Or, buy a pound of pizza dough at the supermarket or your local pizzeria.
Rustic Fig Pizza
You might like to try this with peaches, pears, or grapes. Dried figs can be soaked in hot water for a few minutes and subbed for the fresh. And sliced big tomatoes are lovely instead of the little ones.
To make it vegan, simply omit the cheese. And see the gluten free crust option above.
Makes 2 pies
1 pound pizza dough, divided in half (see above)
10 large or 16 small figs, trimmed and cut in quarters (or use half figs for one pie and halved cherry or grape tomatoes for the second)
1 cup finely grated parmesan
drizzle of good olive oil
salt and pepper
Extra flourish (optional): Wide ribbons of parm shavings (use a vegetable peeler), before and/or after baking. Extra olive oil and/or a drizzle of balsamic glaze are nice, too.
if you have a pizza stone, place it on the middle rack of the oven and crank that sucker up to 500°. Preheat for at least 15 minutes after the oven says it’s hot. if you don’t have a stone. use a rimless baking sheet or an upside down rimmed one. Make and bake one pie at a time unless you have two stones.
I like to make the pie on a piece of parchment. Use bit of extra flour and a rolling pin. Stretch and pat with hour fingers and use the pin last for some even thinness. Go for 8 inches if you want a thicker crust, 10 if you like it quite thin. If it starts snapping back too much, let it rest for a few minutes and then work it some more.
Drizzle or brush the crust with a slick of olive oil. Arrange the figs (or tomatoes), and top with the cheese. Drizzle a bit of extra oil. Add parm shavings if you like. Use the parchment and a pizza peel (or rimless baking sheet) to transfer the pie to the oven. Prepare the second pie while this one bakes.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust is nice and golden brown. Let it rest for a few minutes before you cut and tuck into it. Decorate, if desired, with more parm, olive oil, reduced balsamic, or black pepper. Now you are happy while the second pie bakes!