I like figs and chevre and caramelized onions. Of course, who doesn’t like pizza? Summer time is fig season in the United States. They’re low in calories, high in potassium, not too sweet and hold up nicely when gently cooked.
Figs are thought to have been first cultivated in ancient Egypt. During the Minoan era they reached Crete through trade and then appeared around the 9th century BC in Greece eventually spreading throughout the Mediterranean world. Greece and Rome considered the fig such a delicacy they became offerings to the gods.
Spain brought the fig to the New World in the 16th century and by the 18th century trees were planted on the grounds of Spanish missions in California. By the early 20th century California fig production was second only to Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
Chevre is simply the French word for goats milk cheese. Any decent unseasoned goats milk cheese will be fine. I say unseasoned because many varieties in stores include herbs, garlic and even dried fruits. For this pizza you want a plain goats milk cheese. The history of goats milk cheeses follows a similar vein and have been around the Mediterranean world for as long as figs. Goats produce naturally sweeter milk than cows, and in this pizza it becomes the creamy base.
Sweet onions such as Vidalia and Walla Walla are wonderful in any dish calling for onions. Their lower sulphur and higher sugar content make them both gentle on your eyes when peeling and so pleasant to eat that I’ve known people to take a bite like an apple. Slowly cooking the sliced onions in unsalted butter brings out the natural sugars creating a soft caramel brown deliciousness that pairs well on a burger or hotdog. On this pizza they add to the mild sweetness of the cheese and figs.
The paprika adds color to the beige ingredients, and the red pepper flakes give it a mild kick. Any plain or whole wheat pizza dough either homemade or store bought is fine. I have a preference for whole wheat.
Fig and Chevre Pizza
1 unbaked 12″ pizza shell
2 large sweet onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 to 10 ounces Chevre (goats milk) cheese
1/3 to 1/2 cup cream or buttermilk
5 to 6 ripe fresh figs
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes depending on your taste
salt and white pepper to taste
olive oil for brushing pan
1. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
2. Peel and thinly slice the sweet onions.
3. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the onions.
4. Reduce the heat and slowly cook the onions uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally until the onions have turned a light caramel color.
5. Preheat the oven to 425°F
6. Combine the cheese and cream or buttermilk until smooth. It should be the consistency of thick yogurt. Season with a little salt and white pepper to taste
7. Slice each fig into 8 pieces
8. Lightly brush a pizza pan with olive oil and place the pizza dough on the pan
9. Spread the cheese evenly over the pizza shell
10. Cover the cheese with the caramelized onions
11. Sprinkle the paprika and red pepper flakes over the onions.
12. Evenly distribute the sliced figs over the onions.
13. Bake the pizza for 20 to 25 minutes
Like any pizza, serve it hot from the oven or at room temperature. Leftovers can be warmed in an oven the following day but cover the pizza with foil and do not use a microwave, unless you enjoy chewy pizza crust. This makes four entree servings for lunch or a light dinner. Accompany the pizza with a tossed green salad. Or serve it as part of a tapas assortment cut into eight slices. It’s a light and refreshing vegetarian dish on a warm summer day.
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