Mariel here. I’m at a loss for words today – back-to-back deadlines and a few weeks of working straight through the weekend have all but sapped my capacity to think. Thankfully, a plethora of writing assignments has only stoked my appetite, so whenever I’m looking for a break from my laptop, I’ll pop into the kitchen and whip something up. Growing up, my mother spent the majority of her time in the kitchen, either cooking for us rugrats or conjuring up some fancy grub for her catering clients. When life got a little hairy – as it often did with three kids and a mortgage – she always turned to cooking as the cheapest form of therapy. I never thought I’d follow suit, but lo and behold, when life hands me lemons – eff the lemonade – I now know how to make Lemon Pudding Cake.
So what this post lacks in linguistic gymnastics, it more than makes up for in flavor. Reminiscent of my step-mother’s Fig & Olive Tapenade and my mom’s Fontina & Prosciutto Pizzettes, this dish is as pretty as it is painless (particularly if you “cheat” and buy pre-made dough, like I did). Serve this as a main course or break it up into mini rounds and pass it as an appetizer, as we plan on doing for an upcoming catering job. In the meantime, it’s back to work for me…before the writer’s block kicks in.
White Pizza with Sweet Pears and Balsamic-Glazed Figs
Serves 2 as an entree or 8 as hors d’oeuvres
Store-bought whole wheat pizza dough – $2.00 (or here’s a recipe for DIY dough from Eating Well)
¾-cup blend of freshly grated parmesan and a mild white cheese like shredded mozzarella or grated fontina – $4.00
1 ripe pear, cored and sliced thinly – $0.99
½-cup dried figs, sliced – $2.99
2 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro, chopped finely – $0.89
1 clove of garlic, minced – stock
1 teaspoon of Balsamic vinegar – stock
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $10.87
Cost per entree serving:$5.43
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Pre-warm an empty baking sheet about 5 minutes before you’re ready to bake your pizza (this will result in a crispier crust if you don’t have a proper pizza stone).
2. In a small saucepan, combine the figs, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and minced garlic clove over med-low heat for 1 minute – until the figs just start to soften and the vinegar begins to sizzle. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Roll out your pizza dough on a well-floured surface – be sure to flour your hands and the rolling pin too. Once rolled out, brush the top of your dough with the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil. Assemble your toppings starting with half of the cheese mixture, followed by the pears, then the figs and finish with the remaining cheese. Use two spatulas to place your assembled pizza on the hot baking sheet.
4. Turn the oven temperature down to 450 degrees then bake for 8-12 minutes – timing will depend on the thickness of your crust and your oven, so be sure to check after 8 minute. Once your crust has risen and has turned a nice golden, remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve hot.