Grilled Pizza with Figs, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions

Grilled Pizza with Figs, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions

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!)

Recipe: Grilled Pizza with Figs, Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pizza dough ball, freshly made or purchased (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing on pizza, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 to 1 pound fresh figs, remove stem ends, gently wash, then thinly slice
  • 5-6 ounces plain goat cheese log, thinly sliced*


  1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over low heat. Place onions in melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Sauté onions until golden brown and caramelized, about 30-45 minutes, occasionally stirring. (If desired, adjust heat slightly higher to caramelize onions faster, stirring often and carefully monitoring so they don’t burn.) Reserve in a bowl.
  2. On a large cutting board lightly dusted with flour, prepare and stretch the thawed dough. Following package instructions, after dough “rests” about 20 minutes, stretch into a large 10-12-inch oval, circle, or rectangle. (I prefer a thin crust, so I stretch it thin—slightly transparent in the center. You may also lightly brush both sides of dough with olive oil at this point, if you enjoy a rich-flavored crust.)
  3. Clean and oil grill grates. If you are using a gas grill, turn one side to low and keep the other side on medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build the coals higher on one side so that there is a hot side and a cooler side.
  4. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey and rosemary. Place into a small bowl. (You may also want to locate a grilling brush for last-minute vinaigrette brushing at this time.)
  5. Place sliced figs on a large plate or on a baking sheet. Place sliced goat cheese on a large plate or baking sheet. Place vinaigrette, figs and goat cheese in an area close to your grill for easy, last-minute assembly.
  6. Gently lift the dough by the edges and drape it on the medium-hot side of the grill. Grill pizza until golden brown on bottom side, about 3-5 minutes depending on heat of the flame. You may need to move the pizza around for even grilling.
  7. Using tongs, flip the crust over and move crust to the cooler section of the grill. Immediately brush the grilled side of the dough (that is now facing up) with vinaigrette, divide and spread onions over pizza, then decorate with the figs and cheese. Close the grill cover and allow cheese to melt, 2-4 minutes. With a large spatula and guiding hand, remove cooked pizza from grill. Let sit a minute or two, then slice.

* I use unflavored dental floss to thinly slice softened goat cheese logs.

Time to thaw frozen dough: Overnight, refrigerated, or 3 hours at room temperature

Pizza dough rest time: 20 minutes

Time to caramelize onions: 45 minutes

Active Time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 1 pizza (approx. 6-8 pieces)

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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