Fig Pesto Pizza

IMG_0624We have another bumper crop of figs this year, and since we don’t make fig jam or fig preserves, we are always on the lookout for good ways to use them. Sure we freeze quite a few to enjoy later in the year (just wash, let dry, and freeze whole), but we love eating them fresh, both raw and cooked as part of the meal. Figs are very nutritious and combine well in a stir-fry or our favorite, fig and gorgonzola pasta.

This week, Parade had a recipe for fig and prosciutto pizza, but I had already been thinking about using figs on a pizza. Since we’re vegetarians, I ignored the prosciutto recipe and came up with one of my own.

I start with a basic pizza dough recipe, which is essentially half a cup of water, yeast, flour, oil, sugar and salt (for two people). I disolve my yeast in the water, add a little sugar or molasses, then stir in enough white flour to make a muddy paste (the sponge of bread). After stirring this awhile to build up some gluten, I then add about a Tbs of olive oil and a dash of salt, then add whole wheat flour to make a soft bread dough. Coat the bowl with a little more oil, cover and let rise for at least half an hour before pressing out on your  pizza stone or pan. Or you can buy premade pizza dough, but homemade is so much better.

For the sauce, I sliced half an onion in rounds or half-rounds, then sautéed with a little garlic in olive oil until translucent and a little carmelized. Then I added mushrooms and a little asian eggplant, though you could leave them out if you prefer, along with a few chopped up figs and the juice of a tomato.

Tip: The tomato juice is a litte trick I use. When I want to use fresh tomato and don’t want it to be too runny, like when I add chopped tomato on top of pizza or on tacos, I quarter it, then squeeze the seeds and juice into whatever I’m cooking, so I don’t lose the flavor. The juice cooks down, and I”m left with the solid parts of the tomato, which I can then chop up, reserving to add raw at the end so they won’t cook too much and get mushy.

The pesto forms the base layer of this pizza. It’s just pine nuts, garlic, and herbs (for this, I used basil, oregeno, and rosemary because that’s what I had and I wanted a spicier pesto than basil alone would be—arugula would also work well). I chopped this into a paste in our mini food processor with enough olive oil to make it a paste. I did not add any parmesan, which I normally do with a pesto, but the cheese will be on top.

Spread the pesto evenly across the pizza, then add the onions, etc., on top of that. Then add quartered figs, chopped tomato, and kalamata olives. I used about 2 oz. of gorgonzola cheeze (leftover from our last fig pasta), a little mozzarella, and some parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees (or until done), and enjoy!

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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