In late July and early August, our fig tree gives birth to beautiful, ripe, purple figs, and my heart leaps for joy, thinking specifically of fig pizza.
The first time I tried fig pizza, the textures and flavors astounded me. I expected an enjoyable experience, but the sweet, honey-like flavor of figs mixed with the freshness of basil, the slightly bitter, toasted walnuts, and creamy goat cheese made for a sensational experience, luscious in my mouth.
Many folks make fig pizza by stacking several ingredients on top of flatbread and warming them in the oven. I for one, love pizza in any form, but I believe strongly in incorporating a red sauce of some sort and adapting its flavor profiles to suit the toppings.
Adding anise to this the authentic sauce makes it a perfect match for figs.
Let’s talk about all of the other ingredients.
For the sauce
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh tomatoes
- Minced garlic
- Tomato sauce
- Italian seasoning
For The Pizza
- Lavash or flatbread
- Pizza sauce
- Goat Cheese
Not to Bake (add-in after baking):
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Before adding ingredients to a hot pan, use oil to wet the pan and keep your ingredients from sticking to it. Consider the type of food you are making before choosing an oil. In Mediterranean and Italian cooking, olive oil is commonly used because olives grow substantially in that region of the world.
Do you know what else grows commonly in that region? Figs. So you can confidently use these two ingredients, knowing that many Mediterranean chefs and home cooks have done the same.
While olive oil’s flavors pair most naturally with the flavors in fig pizza, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. You can try any of these substitutions in an equal amount for satisfactory results:
- Grapeseed Oil
- Peanut oil
- Sunflower seed oil
- Canola oil
In this recipe, leeks take the place of onion for a subtler oniony touch. Their sweet, slightly less bold flavor dresses up the sauce without overpowering the other delicate flavor notes.
Shallots, red onions, sweet Vidalia onions, yellow onions, green onions, or even onion powder can replace leeks. Fennel or celery can replace onions if you are preparing this pizza for someone with onion allergies. (The fennel would taste especially great with the anise and figs.)
As these babies break down in a hot pan, they add sweetness and savory depth to the sauce.
Blending fresh tomatoes with canned tomato sauce adds texture and freshness to the basic tin can taste of pasta sauce. This trick fixes up store-bought sauces, making them taste homemade and saving you time.
Red Peppers can be substituted for tomatoes in equal amounts.
Garlic gives your sauce an extra punch. Earthy and bold, this zesty ingredients makes everything feel more robust with flavor.
Garlic powder can replace minced garlic in this recipe. You will only need about 1/16 of a TBSP for this recipe.
Canned tomato sauce occasionally presents a tinny taste when left plain. By sautéing your fresh ingredients in olive oil and letting their flavors meld together, you develop more flavor. This creates a better foundation of flavors that will mask the tinny canned flavor especially when heated through and blended in a food processor or blender.
Adding more fresh tomatoes to your sauté pan gives this dish more flavor. The texture may not be exact in smoothness, but you can try slowly adding heavy cream in small amounts to create your desired viscosity. Taste regularly to make sure the amount of cream does not overpower the taste of the tomatoes.
Sweet, earthy anise compares slightly to the flavor of licorice, but not necessarily the gummy licorice you buy at the candy store. This flavor profile correlates more with fennel, or other natural herbs and spices that brighten and sweeten food.
Anise and figs team together in a lovely way, especially in this pizza.
Fennel or ginger can be used in place of anise because they both brighten the taste of your tomatoes while pairing nicely with the figs.
Oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sometimes a few other ingredients compose the balanced and beautiful variety of spices we refer to as Italian seasoning. For years, home cooks and chefs have short-cutted recipes by using this spice blend instead of individual spices. It works perfectly in any Italian tomato sauce.
Our family’s recent favorite discovery is none other than lavash, a delicious flatbread that can be served flat with herbs and spices, used as a pizza base (as in this recipe), or used as a wrap. Lavash, when baked, gets a cracker-y crispness.
Flatbread or pizza dough can be used in place of lavash.
Developing flavors in a pizza sauce takes time. My quick recipe below, using fresh ingredients combined with canned pizza sauce, eliminates some of the hassles of making everything from scratch.
For those on the run with barely any time to cook, add a flavorful store-bought pizza sauce of your choice to the top of your lavash or flatbread. If you have time to heat it on the stove before adding it in with the other ingredients, add some of your own spices to quickly personalize the sauce.
For those who have lots of time to develop flavors, try roasting your garlic, fresh tomatoes, and other fresh ingredients. Toast your spices, and add more fresh sauce staples like roasted red peppers, roasted fennel, and more.
You cannot pick the perfect cheese for your pizza without considering how it will play with the other ingredients. Heavier cheeses cover delicate flavors, while stringier cheeses coat the sauce establishing a separate, all-cheese layer of deliciousness.
Each pizza eater establishes a preference and searches for that perfect balance of cheese, bread, sauce, and ingredients.
Goat cheese plays the hero in my pizza. The funky but subtle flavor balances well with the other ingredients. I used goat cheese crumbles and spread them sporadically over the lavash. I also find goat cheese to be a little less greasy than other cheeses, and the creamy texture and slightly sweet flavor pair nicely with the slightly tart, toasted walnuts, and honey-sweet figs.
Figs, Gorgonzola, and walnuts combine exquisitely. Light-handedly spread gorgonzola over your pizza to keep from hiding the other flavors.
Feta adds excellent flavor to this pizza, marrying nicely with all of the ingredients. Both ingredients commonly find their way into Mediterranean cuisine, so you can confidently use them together.
Any other cheeses can be used in place of goat cheese, but be sure to taste it with your ingredients to establish the desired quantity of cheese for a balanced, full-flavored pizza.
I can think of no other fruit or food that compares to the texture of a fig. The outside skin is softer than most fruits, making it easy to bite through. The inside might be best compared to a thick jelly or preserves with edible seeds. Ultimately, the experience of eating a fig gratifies its eaters eyes and taste buds.
While figs stand as my favorite fruit pizza, you may find other varieties of sweet and savory pizzas that suit your liking. Pineapple, for instance, makes itself known in the classic Hawaiian pizza. Fruits of all sorts, including raspberries, peaches, mangos, and more, taste great on pizza when paired with the proper savory items and herbs.
If you are looking for a great sweet and savory pizza with peaches, try this recipe from Food Network chef, Chris Santos.
When toasted, the sharp flavor of walnuts settles to become almost smoky or peppery, but still light. Their nutty flavor uniquely presents tamed bitterness that contrasts well with the sweet figs and goat cheese in fig pizza.
Almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, or any other nut can be crumbled or chopped to top this pizza.
After baking, I add basil and prosciutto to finish my pizza. These items do not need cooking, as prosciutto is already cooked, and basil tends to brown or burn if left too long in the oven.
Replacing basil for mint and prosciutto for crispy bacon bits or pancetta makes for a similar flavor profile in this pizza.
If you do not eat pork, this pizza tastes great without protein, or you can add small pieces of cooked chicken.
Be careful not to make your pizza too heavy with ingredients, or your crust may become soggy and start to disintegrate in the oven.
Enjoy this pizza with fresh feta, radish, and watermelon salad, as a starter before pasta, or by itself with a glass of wine.
Prosecco pairs nicely with this pizza. Because of its light, crisp effervescence, the bubbly highlights the flavors of fresh fruit, opening your palette and allowing the figs’ brightness to shine as the star of this pizza.
- Extra virgin olive oil (1 TBSP)
- Leeks (fibrous Parts removed - about 1/4 cup)
- Fresh tomatoes (roughly chopped - about 1/4 cup)
- Minced garlic 1/4 tsp
- Tomato sauce 1/4 of an 8 oz. can
- Anise 1/4 TSP
- Italian seasoning 1/4 TSP
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks. Cook until they appear to be sweating or coated lightly with oil and their own juices.
- Add tomatoes, anise, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, and cook for one minute
- Pour tomato sauce over the ingredients and turn up the heat on the stove. Once the sauce is bubbling, remove the ingredients from the stove and pour them into a blender.
- Blend carefully. (Be especially careful with the hot sauce.)
For more recipe ideas, visit our “Recipes” section for inspiration.