A Summer Pizza for Lunch in Paris

After arriving in Paris last week, I couldn’t wait to make a foray to the local food markets in our Left Bank neighborhood. I marveled at the produce displayed by the fruit and vegetable vendors. Baskets of strawberries were so ripe that they were red all the way through. Golden apricots were soft when touched and ready for eating. Asparagus—green and white, slender and plump—were also tempting. But the bin that caught my eye was filled with dark, luscious figs. When I squeezed them gently in my hand, they were so tender that I needed real will power not to take a bite.

I bought a bunch, and came home to make a pizza that featured figs as part of the topping. To balance their sweetness, I sautéed thins strips of prosciutto to provide a salty note. Crumbled goat cheese and grated Comté (or Italian Fontina) take the place of a sauce. Torn mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil scented with curry round out the flavors.

I love thin, crispy pizza crust, and fortunately, stores both here in France and at home offer ready-made versions. I’ve used refrigerated flat bread crusts and thin pizza dough with good results. As the following recipe indicates, if you (like me) don’t have a pizza stone, simply heat a baking sheet in a hot oven for several minutes before placing the crust on it. That way the crust gets a head start and becomes extra crispy while the topping is baked.

You can slice this pizza into wedges or cut lines across and down (like a tic, tac, toe board) to offer squares as smaller portions. My spouse and I, hungry after plenty of walking in the City of Light, devoured a whole pizza between us for lunch!

 

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Fresh Fig, Crispy Prosciutto, and Mint Pizza

2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto cut into 1/2- by 3- to 4-inch julienned stripes
One 12- to 13-inch very thin pizza round or flat bread (See note.)
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
1 1/2 cups (about 4 oz) coarsely grated Comté or Italian Fontina (See note.)
10 Black Mission figs (about 1/2 pd), stemmed and quartered lengthwise
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, torn
3/4 tsp curry powder
4 1/ 2 tsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

2. Heat a medium heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot. Then add the julienned prosciutto and cook, stirring, until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to drain on paper towels. (Prosciutto can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave uncovered at cool room temperature.)

3. Place a large baking sheet in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven to a heatproof surface and carefully (since the baking sheet is hot) place the pizza round or flat bread on the pan. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the flatbread. Then sprinkle with half of the Comté. Arrange the figs over the cheese and then sprinkle with remaining Comté.

4. Bake the pizza or flat bread until the crust is very crisp, the cheese has melted, and the figs are warm, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully

5. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the prosciutto and then the mint over it Whisk the curry powder with the olive oil and spoon it lightly over the pizza. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Remove and cut into 8 slices or for smaller servings cut the flatbread into squares. Serves warm. Serves 2 to 3 as a light main course or 6 as appetizers.

Market note:
For the flat bread, the brand, Top This, available at my local Whole Foods is quite thin and works beautifully.

Although I used large dark figs when making this pizza in Paris, smaller Black Mission figs available at Whole Foods and other supermarkets, work equally well. The important thing is to make certain the figs are very ripe.

I love the mellow taste of French Comté, but if unavailable, a good Italian Fontina or Havarti make good substitutes.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2018

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