Remember the pizza dough recipe from last month? Well, since that recipe makes about three to four pizzas, I froze the extra dough for later use and made a fortuitous discovery! After thawing the dough and allowing it to come to room temperature, I was able to roll it out into a very thin crust that after baking, came out crispy and light–more like a flatbread than the chewier crust of the initial fresh batch of dough. This is a great thing, as I love crisp flatbread, and I had just the right toppings for it. You see, I had ventured to Whole Foods market last weekend to buy the fresh mushrooms for the Sizzling Mushrooms With Sage and Thyme and the first thing I saw was a display of black mission figs on sale for $2.99 per pint! I was so excited to finally see figs in season that I immediately bought a pint without a second thought. Now, I think figs are some of the most inspiring fruits–beautiful and exotic, they are subtly sweet, juicy, and pair well with savory elements. Fig trees grow really well in our climate and while I would love to have one, I don’t think we could fit one more tree into our small backyard!
|Aren’t they so pretty?|
I had first planned to stuff the figs with goat cheese and wrap them in prosciutto, but that plan disappeared when I remembered that last ball of pizza dough that was thawing in the refrigerator. So, I made this flatbread instead topped with caramelized onions, those glorious figs, ricotta cheese, salty prosciutto and some of the leftover Sizzling Mushrooms! The salty prosciutto perfectly balanced the sweetness of the figs and caramelized onions. The ricotta cheese added richness and the fresh basil added brightness. I finished the whole flatbread with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction. I can’t think of a better flavor combination! I hope that figs are still available, because I’m already craving this flatbread.
One portion of pizza dough
6-10 figs, quartered
4-6 slices prosciutto
This isn’t a recipe, because you can put anything on a flatbread that you enjoy. I just loved this particular combination of ingredients, and I think you will, too! First preheat your oven or grill to 500 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place the stone on your oven or grill and allow it to preheat. For this flatbread, I used a pizza grill pan, and I did not preheat the pan. As I mentioned, I had some leftover pizza dough that I had frozen and then thawed. Allow the dough to come to room temperature and with some extra flour sprinkled on your work surface, knead the dough into a ball and using a rolling pin, roll into a very thin round. If using a pizza stone, place the dough round onto a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel. First, brush the dough with olive oil. Then add the toppings. I started with a layer of caramelized onions, then the mushrooms, figs, dollops of ricotta cheese, basil and prosciutto. Bake in a hot oven or on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes, but watch it closely so that it doesn’t burn. Garnish with more fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
Caramelized onions are quite easy, but they require patience. To make them, slice an onion in half-moons and sauté with a drizzle of olive oil in a medium sized frying pan. After the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes add a sprinkle of salt. The most important thing to remember is to cook the onions on medium to low heat. Caramelizing onions takes time–about 45 minutes, but cooking them slowly allows the onions to become sweet and dark golden brown. If you rush the process, you risk having crunchy burnt onions. So, get the onions started and then reduce the heat and use that time to do something else. You don’t have to nurse the onions if the heat is low enough, just give them a stir every few minutes.
|Top left: onions right after adding to the pan; top right: onions after 5 minutes; bottom left: onions after 20 minutes; bottom right: onions after 45 minutes|
Balsamic reduction is also quite simple to make. In a medium saucepan, add 2 cups of balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar and one bay leaf. Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil and continue boiling until the mixture has reduced to half its volume. Lower the temperature and simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy and thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place the balsamic reduction in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. I’ve had my balsamic reduction for quite a few months and it’s almost time to make a new batch. It is delicious spooned over fresh tomato salads, pizzas, whatever suits you!