Mary Anne here. A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed one of those perfect autumn days – the sun high enough in the sky to remind us that summer is still close at hand, while the air had that first little nip of fall. Mariel had just returned from her honeymoon, her own glow a reflection of that Indian summer day. I drove into the city, eager to see my newlywed daughter and recap the wedding and honeymoon.
Mariel took me to a restaurant near Bloomingdale’s called “Fig & Olive,” knowing that these two foods are at the very top of my favorites. There were so many delightful options that it was difficult to decide what to choose! We finally settled on separate main courses but shared a warm puffed pastry appetizer that was a fragrant slice of heaven. It was a completely decadent treat that offered the perfect pairing of sweet and savory: soft, aromatic cheese coupled with crunchy walnuts, and juicy figs; olives that bit back, flaky pastry topped with gorgeous bright green arugula and thin shavings of salty prosciutto. Right then and there I decided I would have to recreate this tasty little culinary wonder. Mariel laughed as I quickly – and stealthily – drew sketches on my napkin, adding my own ideas to try later at home.
I’ve made several changes to the recipe including ditching the Gorgonzola in favor of mild Fontina. Inexpensive blue cheeses are far too strong and overpowering and frankly, my first stab at this recipe failed because of the poor quality Gorgonzola I had selected. To keep the costs down, and avoid buying pricier blue (really green, right?) cheese, I opted for the more reliable and budget-friendly Fontina. Additionally, frozen puff pastry is pricey if you’re using more than a sheet or two, and while the least expensive pastry is arguably homemade pizza dough, I found pre-made on sale at my local A&P and decided to take advantage of the modest price while saving tremendous time and effort.
Fig & Olive Pizzettes
Makes 6 7-inch Pizzettes
Note: This recipe can double as a passed appetizer. Simply roll the pizza dough into an 11 x 14 inch rectangle. Prepare the recipe using the same proportions and baking instructions, but skip the mounds of arugula. Cut the pizza into bite-sized pieces then top with a leaf or two of arugula and a small piece of the prosciutto. Makes approximately 40 pieces.
1 lb. pre-made pizza dough — $1.99
olive oil — stock
powdered garlic — stock
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded — $3.98
6 ozs. dried figs, quartered or 4 whole fresh figs, sliced — $2.29
½ cup chopped walnuts — stock
12 grape tomatoes, quartered – $0.60
¼ lb. pitted Greek olives, chopped — $1.20
1 cup fresh arugula or baby spinach, roughly chopped — $0.99
1/3 lb. prosciutto — $2.99
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste — stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $14.04
Total Per 6 Pizzettes: $2.34
Total Per Appetizer Portion: $0.35
1.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet large enough to accommodate, with Pam or similar cooking spray (or 2 smaller cookie sheets).
2. Using kitchen shears, cut the pizza dough into 6 equal sized pieces. On a lightly floured counter top, roll out the pieces of dough into circles: approximately 7 inches in diameter. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with powdered garlic. Transfer the rounds to the prepared cookie sheet and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, assemble the remaining components. Slice the grape tomatoes and figs; shred the cheese, slice the olives, and coarsely chop the walnuts.
4. Divide the Fontina cheese equally between the Pizzettes, spreading to about ½ inch from the edge. Arrange the olives, tomatoes, walnuts and figs on top of the cheese.
5. Bake for 10 minutes until crust is golden and cheese is melted.
6. Remove from the oven and top each Pizzette with the arugula and a thin slice of prosciutto. Drizzle just a bit of the oil and Balsamic vinegar over the top: approximately a combined teaspoon per Pizzette or to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.