…I’ll make an occasional exception if the toppings are more interesting than the ubiquitous pepperoni, processed cheese, canned olives, assorted mystery meat and pineapple (!?!) especially when the weather turns cold and I crave something more rib-sticking than a salad Nicoise.
In this recipe, the sweetness of dried figs and caramelized shallots compliments the tangy, salty unctuousness of the gorgonzola and the only thing that takes time are the shallots, which can be done a day or two before and kept in the fridge or freezer. It’s worth making extra as they can be gently reheated and served on top of a steak, burger, grilled salmon, beaten into mashed potatoes, folded into an omelet or used as a topping for crispy bruschetta. Shallot cooking time is about 45 mins to 1 hr – actual prep is approx 5 mins.
Notes at the end with suggested alternatives for carnivores and non-gorgonzola eaters:
FIG and GORGONZOLA PIZZA with CARAMELIZED SHALLOTS
(Serves two hungry people)
8 oz shallots
2 oz butter
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of white or red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar if you can get it)
A sprig of thyme
*Raw pizza crust, approx 12ins across (home made or not; see notes)
6 oz of Gorgonzola diced or sliced – however you prefer
4 oz dried black mission figs, stalks trimmed and halved lengthways (make sure they’re soft and not bullet-like)
Sea salt, freshly milled black pepper
Starting with the shallots which can be done in advance …peel and very thinly slice them across in rings then sauté over low heat in the warmed olive oil and melted butter, until soft and translucent; approx 5 mins.
Add the honey and vinegar – season to taste with salt and pepper. Throw in the thyme sprig and cover with a tight fitting lid (or use heavy duty foil if you don’t have one). Cook on a very, very low heat for about 45 mins to an hour, stirring occasionally. If they look at all dried out along the way, add a tablespoon of water. Once they’re a glossy golden color and meltingly tender, rapidly boil off any residual liquid. Remove the thyme stalk and set shallots aside.
Now for the crust: in my case, made by someone else. Pre-heat the oven to 400F /200C. Arrange raw crust on a baking sheet, brush lightly with extra v olive oil and pre-bake for 5 mins.
Pile on the toppings and finish with another little drizzle of olive oil. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the crust are golden, approx 10-12 mins.
Some helpful notes:
I don’t measure things very often (unless I’m baking a cake) so use your own judgment. The topping quantities are meant as a guide. The main point is to combine these flavors, so add or subtract at will.
*Pillsbury sells raw refrigerated pizza crust in a cardboard tube which creates a 12 x 12 inch pizza. I keep a couple in my freezer as back up. I’d love to be one of those people who have time to make pizza crust from scratch. I’m not.
Carnivores: if you don’t feel you’ve been properly fed unless there’s some meat on your plate; add shredded prosciutto or parma ham to the topping.
Fresh figs, mozzarella and caramelized shallots are a lovely, milder tasting alternative if you can find fresh figs. Snip the stalks off and split them lengthways into 3 slices per fig as they’re much larger than dried ones. Arrange them cut sides up. Avoid pre-shredded processed cheese if you can and go for the real thing.
The caramelized shallots can be frozen in ice cube trays. I use ice cube trays for freezing many things where I only want a small quantity at a time. Once frozen, pop them out and store in the freezer in a ziplok baggie.
I’ve also caramelized red onions (Aka ‘Red Onion Marmelade’) – fab on grilled salmon, bruschetta or anything else you fancy.
I suppose you could use other types of blue cheese but I prefer gorgonzola for its creamy suppleness and distinctive flavor.
You can also use dried calimyrna figs but the wont be as visually appealing as the dark mission figs in this recipe.
Did you know…Costco sells Real Gorgonzola from Real Italy at about $10.00 a pound less than anywhere else? Likewise, Buffalo Mozzarella.
Costco, you’re welcome!