Remember the first time you bit into a hot, cheesy pizza? You know, the kind delivered to your front door in an oil-drenched cardboard box? That’s a rhetorical question for most of you under the age of 50. I mean, really, when was pizza ever not a part of your life?
Pizza, indeed, may be morphed into your subconscious like pepperoni stuck to mozzarella. Perhaps you don’t even recall a time when you didn’t eat pizza.
Take-out pizza has, happily, evolved since my teenaged recollections. In the 70’s, doughy pizza crust layered with overly sweet, ketchup-y sauces, metallic mushroom slices and several inches of processed mozzarella shreds was the norm; sleepovers and dorm life wouldn’t have been the same without them. And of course I’d be remiss not mentioning the Chef Boyardee Pizza Kits that date back to the 1950’s.
These days, to my taste, there are much better pizza options. Although I’d never refuse a slice of Pizza Ala Giardinera from Anthony’s, today I prefer making my own. I can customize the thickness and bite of my crust, ratio of sauce used (if any), and determine the quality of the toppings and cheese.
Making grilled pizza is also a cinch. The only trick is disciplining yourself to gather your “mise en place,” a French culinary phrase that means to assemble all of your ingredients prior to cooking. This organization is especially important for quick assembly as the pizza grills.
There’s no need to get hung up on ingredients. The pizza palette is a perfect repository for any leftovers in your fridge or seasonal goodies you’d enjoy utilizing. Some of my other favorite pizza recipes are Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza and Pizza with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella.
The abundant displays of figs I’ve seen lately at Whole Foods inspired this particular recipe. I spoke with Cre Fuller, the Produce Team Leader at the Whole Foods Washtenaw store, who told me fresh figs are “getting into our consciousness more. With increased demand, growers produce more and the fig season extends. It’s a snowball effect.
“They are at their best when they ‘weep their sugars’; they may be sticky but they are ready to roll,” he added. Fuller said he can’t always guarantee this highly perishable fruit will be available, but the fig season should last a few more weeks.
Choose figs that are plump and feel tender to a light touch. Avoid bruised figs with a sour smell, an indication they may be spoiled; figs should have a mildly sweet fragrance. I try to use fresh figs within 24 hours of purchase. There is no need to peel the figs. Trim the stem ends, lightly rinse with water and enjoy!
Rich in sweet jammy flavor, antioxidents and fiber, what’s not to love about figs (which, according to Wikipedia, are one of the first crops ever cultivated by humans)? I don’t love the fact that Michigan’s climate is too cold to grow them. Ah well. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying fabulous figs whenever they crop up, generally at this time of the year.
This grilled pizza may have a few charred spots and idiosyncrasies you’d never find in a delivered or frozen pizza, but its chewy, crisp texture topped with the sweetness of figs and caramalized onion, combined with the tang of goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, is simply delicious! (Plus, there’s no delivery fee or tip!)