Just look at that photo and tell me you don’t want a slice.
It’s like a pizza and a fancy cheese board had a baby, and this is it, all grown up and sophisticated.
It was everything I hoped it would be: sweet, salty, bitter, tangy, chewy, crispy goodness on a crust. Tangy blue cheese balancing out sweet fig jam and candy-like onions caramelized in balsamic vinegar and port wine. Crispy bacon next to chewy mozzarella slices. Fresh baby arugula adding a peppery finishing touch.
All mingling together on a fig, bacon, caramelized onion, and blue cheese pizza.
I wish I had a second one right now. I bet you wish you had a first.
As you may know, I am a subscriber to the Try the World subscription box. It’s a service that sends you a box of unique gourmet goodies from a different international city or country every other month. It’s the only subscription box I’ve been totally sold on because they send me awesome things I can actually cook with, not just snack on – although if that’s your style, they just started doing a snack box too! They even send a culture guide that tells a bit about the country, explains what the different foods are and how to use them, and includes authentic recipes you can use the ingredients in.
It’s great because they’re ingredients I might not normally think to get or even be able to find locally, and they broaden my culinary boundaries since I get to make real recipes with real ingredients from other countries, and I’m pushed to find new and creative ways to use everything in the box that aren’t my same-old go-to standby meals.
I adore international or ethnic food, which is somewhat lacking in the restaurant scene in Charleston. Besides, even in a more ethnically-diverse city than mine, how often do you see an Argentine or Portuguese restaurant? (you can read my review of their Argentina box here) If this sounds as good to you as it did to me, I even have a coupon code for you at the end of this post!
I am dying to try some of their authentic Portuguese recipes included in this month’s culture guide, like the codfish fritters that use the gourmet can of cod they included, but for this recipe I thought I’d do something a little different. Since I’m not super familiar with Portuguese cuisine, I took inspiration from the ingredients themselves. That’s the great thing about what they send you – you can use the ingredients to make authentic international food, or you can adapt them to your own style.
This jar of caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar and port wine they sent me sounded amazing and reminded me of the wine reduction that’s used on my favorite burger at one of our local restaurants, Sesame Burger. The sandwich is called the Napa Valley and has a beef patty topped with fig and bacon jam, red wine reduction, and blue cheese.
It’s a perfect combination of flavors – so I put them on a pizza. It’s basically an excuse to eat the items you might find on a cheese plate as an entire meal, and it is truly glorious.
First I stretched out a pizza crust out of fresh dough from the deli section of the grocery store. If at first it doesn’t want to stretch to fill the whole pizza pan and keeps shrinking back (like in the above photo), you can let the dough rest for 5 minutes, the gluten relaxes and you can stretch it more. It’s the craziest thing! I was a little skeptical but when I cut up the figs and mozzarella and came back to the dough, sho’ ‘nuf, it stretched right out to fill the pan. Perfection.
I drizzled it with the olive oil included in the Portugal box. It’s so much more flavorful than the giant jug of olive oil I regularly buy to meet my considerable olive oil needs.
Since I don’t have fig and bacon jam, I used fig jam and bacon, plus some dried figs for some visual and textural contrast. When spreading the fig jam on the crust, I did it in patches rather than covering the entire pie. I’d say maybe cover about half to two-thirds of the total area. It’s very easy for the sweetness of the fig jam to overwhelm the pizza, and you want a balanced package. I find fig jam at the grocery store near the fancy cheeses, not with the other jellies and peanut butters, for some reason.
I was just scrolling through Try the World’s online shop, and if you go under Portugal, they also have a fig and walnut jam, and a fig jam for cheese! The one they sent me in my box was the pumpkin hazelnut jam, which I can’t wait to try, but it’s so crazy that they also have what I coincidentally used in this pizza to go with their onions! I guess this pizza is more Portuguese-influenced than I even realized!
On top of the olive oil and jam, I layered slices of fresh mozzarella and dried figs. I am sure fresh figs would be even better, but alas, they have a very short season in the fall, so they’re nowhere to be found. The dried ones did just fine.
Sprinkle on copious amounts of cooked bacon pieces (I used 4 slices, but I’d recommend using at least 6) and a good blue cheese. The blue cheese is the perfect foil to fig jam — salty and tangy, it complements and balances out the sweetness of the fruit spread. My favorite is buttermilk blue cheese, but anything in a wedge wrapped in plastic wrap should be better than pre-crumbled blue cheese in a plastic tupperware.
Finally, I added little piles of the caramelized onions from the Portugal box. They are sweet and delicious, almost like candy, and are another great complement to the blue cheese. That’s why it’s important not to overdo the fig jam – you want to be able to taste these amazing onion strands too!
After you bake it in the oven, everything gets all golden brown and bubbly and all the toppings meld together into a melty, sticky, crispy, chewy, mess of goodness. Mmmmmmmmm.
Baby arugula and some more blue cheese crumbles are the finishing touch. It’s great to have some of the blue cheese melted in with the rest of it, but that texture and flavor really comes out even more at room temperature. I put about half on before baking and half on afterwards. And the arugula gives a nice fresh touch and a little bitterness to balance the sweet.
It’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
After the first bite (or five) I had to run outside with my half a slice and tell Mike to turn off the lawn mower and take a bite of this amazing concoction. He came in to share the pizza with me and we had a really hard time saving a slice for the lovely Alex, who is in town for Easter weekend. Despite not being a blue cheese lover, Alex thought the pizza was great, but if you are very averse to blue cheese, you could use feta or goat cheese instead and it would still be delicious.
This one’s definitely a keeper!
Disclaimer: Try the World sent me this Portugal box for free so I could write a recipe for you, which is awesome because I loved them first! All opinions are mine. Update 08/04/2016: This post also contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from Try the World through my links, I will receive a commission.
Also, side note: the boxes they send all the stuff in? They are beautiful and high-quality, the color is lovely, and I have been using my old Try the World boxes all over the house for storage and organization. It’s definitely an added bonus.
I know you all are waiting for your coupon code so you can run out onto the internet and subscribe – you can get 15% off any of their boxes (the regular ones that I subscribe to, which I highly recommend, or their new snack boxes). Just go to www.trytheworld.com and use the coupon code pinchmeimeating when you check out!
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Fig, Bacon, and Blue Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Caramelized Onions
- 1 lb fresh pizza dough homemade or store-bought
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
- 3-4 tbsp Try the World fig jam
- 7 dried figs or 3-4 fresh ones
- 4 oz good blue cheese
- 8 oz ball of fresh mozzarella
- 6 slices cooked bacon crumbled into large pieces
- 3 tbsp caramelized onions in balsamic vinegar and port wine approximately
- handful fresh baby arugula
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Drizzle a 14" pizza pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Shape pizza dough into a circle, stretching with your knuckles or holding one side, letting it stretch with gravity, and rotating your hands around the edge of the circle so it stretches in all directions. Lay pizza crust on pan and stretch to fit. If it shrinks back, let it rest for 5 minutes while you slice the figs and mozzarella.
Slice mozzarella into about 1/4 inch slices. Remove tough stems from figs and slice each one lengthwise into about 4 slices.
If necessary, go back to pizza dough and stretch to fill the pan.
Drizzle pizza dough with about 1 tbsp olive oil and brush to cover the center, leaving about 1" on the edges for a crust.
Place small dollops of fig jam around the pizza and spread out into patches, covering about 1/2 to 2/3 of the total surface of the pizza.
Top with mozzarella slices and place sliced figs in the gaps between the cheese.
Sprinkle on bacon and crumbles of about half the blue cheese.
Spoon on small piles of caramelized onion around the pizza and spread out a little bit.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until everything is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
Sprinkle with baby arugula and the remaining blue cheese. Slice and serve!