Happy Birthday, Linda’s Italian Table!
I can’t quite believe it , but here it is – the one year birthday of Linda’s Italian Table! HOORAY! Because one year ago my first post related to my passion for figs, I thought it might be fitting to celebrate this event with another delicious fig recipe, FIG AND SAUSAGE PIZZA WITH FRANGELICO. I couldn’t wait to share this one with you, as it meets all of my usual requirements for a stellar dish: it is drop-dead gorgeous, an easy slide in the prep, and downright addictive. Yes, this is the one that will evoke those “I’ll have what she’s having” comments.
This is a great time for fresh figs in almost all markets. For us, “fortunates”, we have been enjoying them since June. However, I find that aside from having them grow in your own back yard all season, the later figs found in the local markets are especially ripe and delicious. The Mission Figs in particular are perfectly ripe, seductively sweet, and seem to arrive in a faultlessly “ready” state for cooking. They are just waitin’ for ya!
There are many suggestions out there for the use of figs on pizza. This one is a little different, I think, in that there are a few surprises. (Now didn’t you just know there would be?)
First – The Cheese: So many times, when figs are paired with cheese, the most obvious come to mind: Goat, Gorgonzola, Feta, and Ricotta. I frequently select these cheeses, myself, when preparing my fig dishes. This time we’re going to the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean and South of Turkey for something a little different – HALLOUMI. This traditional Cypriot cheese is usually made from a combination of goat and sheep’s milk. Sometimes a little cow’s milk can be used as well. HALLOUMI has a high melting point which makes it the perfect choice for frying, or grilling as it does not melt and run – also making it a fine cheese for the intense heat of pizza on the grill or at a 500 degree temperature in the oven. There is a little saltiness or brininess in its flavor because it is usually kept in sea water – making it a flawless partner to the sweet figs. It really has wonderful flavor – much like feta – but lighter. In addition to both its distinctive flavor and high melting point, the fact that figs are part of the diet of the Mediterranean makes HALLOUMI my only choice for a pizza this special. HALLOUMI can be found easily in the specialty cheese section of most markets and definitely at Fresh Market and Whole Foods.
However, for those here, in Atlanta, visit CalyRoad Creamery on Hildebrand Dr. in Sandy Springs for the very finest HALLOUMI. This cheese artisan spoils me with all of their special fresh cheeses. We are so lucky to have their expertise available to us. Make your “CalyRoad Run” on a Thursday or a Friday, pull up a chair, and watch them make the cheese.
Second – the Hazelnuts: The addition of toasted coarsely chopped Hazelnuts comes after the pizza is cooked. These nuts add a very distinctive flavor to this pizza and will compliment the last surprise ingredient. Hazelnuts are so delicious with figs.
The final surprise: The last of the unexpected ingredients and perhaps the most special is a light drizzle of Frangelico liqueur, which I suggest for over the top of the hot pizza as soon as it comes off the grill or out of the oven. It is the je ne sais quoi that pulls all of the flavors together into what will induce immediate surprise and sounds of pleasure with the very first bite. Just try keeping them away from this one! (Better make two!) A light honey drizzle can be substituted and is very good, but the Frangelico is the little “number” that will bring ‘em to their knees!
The ingredients: As always, the ingredients in this pizza separate it from all others. The fresh sweetness of the figs, along with the Hazelnuts and Frangelico, and then married with the savory nature of the sausage and briny creaminess of the HALLOUMI make this not a pizza but an event. —And then there are the onions – oh my what we’ll do to those!
Let’s rock this thing! Put your red shoes on! I’m hungry – and I grow very impatient waiting for the birthday celebration to begin!
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FIG AND SAUSAGE PIZZA WITH FRANGELICO
Makes: 1 medium pizza
1 loaf pizza dough – For a great dough recipe, visit my post: Pizza—That’s Amore.
1/2 lb Loose sausage (out of casings) – in pieces lightly browned
1 Purple Onion, sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Honey
Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
4 oz. Halloumi Cheese, sliced
8 Fresh Ripe Figs – Sliced
1/3 c. Hazelnuts, very coarsely chopped and toasted
Handful of fresh Basil Leaves for garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzle.
Frangelico Liqueur (Hazelnut Liqueur) for a light drizzle at the end
(Honey can be substituted for the liqueur)
Try the pizza dough recipe from the link in the ingredients. It is a great dough and easy to work with.
Prepare your dough and rub the surface with a little olive oil.
Prepare your onions as follows: Saute in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey, adding a little salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes until tender and caramelized. They will be oh so sweet!
Place the onions over the surface of your pizza dough.
Saute the sausage pieces until just lightly browned. Then distribute them over the onions on the dough.
Next place the Halloumi slices over the top of the sausage.
Place your fig slices around the top.
When your pizza is cooked, immediately drop the toasted Hazelnuts all over the top.
Follow this, with your chopped fresh basil. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive oil.
Finally the best part! Lightly drizzle the Frangelico over the top and serve.
Celebrate this first birthday along with us at Linda’s Italian Table by enjoying this wonderful Fig and Sausage Pizza with Frangelico with someone very special. This pizza is full of surprises which can’t be fully described until you take your first bite. I think a lovely Pinot Noir would be choice #1 here – unless you’re me, in which case only the “bubbly” will do for this special birthday. Whatever you decide to drink – raise a glass with me while you enjoy this surprise laced pizza and toast – “TO A YEAR FULL OF SURPRISES – MAY THEY KEEP ON COMIN! YEAH! “
Thank you all for showing up week after week!
Tanti Auguri, Linda’s Italian Table!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography