Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas

Figs are having their autumn moment!

And I’m majorly feeling the pressure. Figs bring on a case of cook’s block for me every time. It’s like writer’s block, but with ingredients.

My knee-jerk reaction is to slice them open and eat them on their own, but I also don’t want to miss the opportunity to cook with them.

I agonize over what I can make with these revered little parcels. I want something a little different, but I also want to maintain the fig’s natural flavor and texture.  You know, treat them right.

I think it’s best to keep it simple. They’re perfect on toast with ricotta and drizzle of honey. Or sliced with a little sweet cheese on each piece, canape style.

One of my favorite simple short-cuts is using thin pita bread as a quick pizza crust. This time, I decorated them with complimenting flavors like goat cheese, caramelized onion and of course, figs. Top with some mesculin greens tossed with a little olive oil just before serving and we’re in business!

Boom. Celebration of figs.

Fig and Caramelized Onion Pita Pizzas
(makes 2 pizzas)
– 2 pita breads, poked with a fork*
– 1 large red onion, sliced thin
– 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing and garnishing
– 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– 2-4 fresh figs, sliced into discs*
– 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
– 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
– 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
– salt and pepper, to taste

For salad topping
– 1 cup mesculin greens or arugula
– 1 teaspoon olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

To caramelize the onions, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add onions, salt and balsamic vinegar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until browned and completely soft.

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F.

Prepare a baking tray by coating it in a small amount of olive oil. (This helps the pitas crisp up without becoming brittle.)

Put together your pizzas, starting with spreading the caramelized onions on the pitas. Top with sliced figs, cheese and nuts. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper and drizzle each pizza with a small about of olive oil (about a 1/2-1 teaspoon for each pizza.)

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until everything is heated through.

In a bowl mix greens with olive oil, salt and pepper. Top heated pizzas with the greens and serve immediately.

*Notes:
– Putting little holes in the pitas prevents them from ballooning in the oven.
– The amount of figs you’ll need depends on the size of your figs and of your pitas. I only used two figs for the pizzas pictured.

5 Ingredient (or less) Friday: Leftovers and Pierogies

One of the best parts about Thanksgiving is the leftovers – leftover turkey (in my case chicken) for salads, soups and sandwiches, stuffing made into hash with a fried egg, cold roasted veggies – I love it all. But I always run into an issue with the leftover mashed potatoes. When made fresh they are fluffy, creamy clouds from heaven but once they hit the fridge, it’s all downhill.

So, what do you do when you’re left with a big mountain of potato that you just can’t bare to toss out?

Do the taters justice and make pierogies.

These traditional Polish dumplings are delicious when boiled or pan fried and served with a little sour cream or apple sauce. When you already have the mashed potatoes, making them is super simple. You can add cheese, sauerkraut, mushrooms or onions to your potatoes to spruce them up inside their little parcel.

You can also make your own dough if you’d like, but after cooking for two Thanksgivings in one week I was feeling a little lazy. I picked up some fresh lasagna sheets and cut them into rounds using a glass.

(Not perfect rounds, as you can see…)

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Happy Thanksgiving! (p.s. I love Green Bean Casserole)



It’s Thanksgiving here in Australia already and I should probably be writing about pumpkin pie and other glamorous autumnal dishes, but no, I am writing about good ole’ green bean casserole.

Green bean casserole is one of those very American baby boom-era dishes (fun fact: it was invented by the Campbell’s Soup company in the 1950’s, says Wikipedia.) and happens to be one of the more controversial dishes in my family’s Thanksgiving Day lineup.

It was often snickered at/ignored by certain members of our family who deemed it a little lame and old-fashioned. Until one year, it just wasn’t there. (Did you see this one coming? I sure as hell didn’t.) Gammy* didn’t make it because, “no one liked it”. Whaaat? I never said that.

And so I began my crusade of bringing the unhealthy, almost unnatural veggie casserole back into fashion. I didn’t get far beyond making it for my friends at college and getting it back on our Thanksgiving table, but that was enough for me.

This is my second Thanksgiving away from home and this week I was craving that endearing cream-o-mushroom-flavored dish something awful.

I decided to challenge myself a little and make it without the magical ingredients of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom condensed soup and pre-packaged fried onions. Both of which I probably couldn’t find here if I wanted to, so I spared myself the disappointment.

I used chicken stock thickened with flour and a little cream, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and green onions that I crisped in the oven. The result was a success – I captured the flavor and essence of an old fashioned green bean casserole with healthy, fresh ingredients.

Green Bean Casserole
– 6-7 green onions finely chopped (thinly sliced shallot would work well too)
– 5 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-3 cm/1 inch pieces
– 1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
– a small knob of butter
– 1 cup of chicken both
– 2 tablespoons of flour, sifted
– 1 tablespoon of cream
– 4 heaping tablespoons of caramelized onion**
– salt& pepper
– 1/4 cup grated parmesan

Place the green onions on an oiled baking sheet and grill/broil in the oven for about 5 minutes, until crispy. Set aside. (I burnt mine a little – be careful.)
Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F
In a small saucepan bring the chicken broth to a boil. Take off the heat and whisk in flour and cream until thickened. Season with salt & lots of pepper.
In another pan, melt the butter and saute mushrooms. Season with pepper. Once softened, add to the thickened chicken broth.
Place green beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes and drain.
In a casserole dish combine green beans, thickened broth with mushrooms, and caramelized onion. Toss gently to coat the green beans.
Cover and place casserole dish in the preheated oven or 20 minutes. Uncover, turn on the grill/broiler and top with the crisped green onions and parmesan. Bake for 5 more minutes.

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*Gammy is the master of mashed potatoes AND green bean casserole. She also happens to be the greatest grandma in the world.

**To make caramelized onion: Combine chopped brown onions with a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook covered on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes or until sweet and a completely softened. I try to make a big batch to have on hand for making things like this more awesome.