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Fig, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza

April 6, 2009


When I moved to Boston after college, I was flush with excitement about living in a big city. So many things to do, people to meet, excitement buzzing all around me. And since I was really beginning to fully realize my passion for food and cooking and eating (well, I’d always had a passion for eating), one of the things I was most excited about, of course, was all the great food and restaurants to try.



But not being from a big city, when I first moved there, all of the things to learn about getting around — learning the “T,” figuring out Boston’s streets (many of which seem to be laid out with no rhyme or reason) and just getting used to the city atmosphere was both exhilarating and a little overwhelming. I look back on that time now with a mixture of fondness and amazement, because after living there for some time, I came to regard Boston as a fairly small, walkable city — and pretty easy to get around (though I never did particularly enjoy driving there.)


One of my very first memories of my time in Boston was a dinner I had with a friend (who had gone to college inย  Boston, and who I therefore regarded as a pro in all things city-related) in Chestnut Hill, at Todd English’s restaurant Figs. Now, for anyone who lives in the Boston area, you know that Chestnut Hill isn’t really in the thick of Boston proper, but for someone new to the area and city life, it seemed plenty urban. I walked into the restaurant with my friend, thinking to myself “wow, here I am in Todd English’s restaurant. He’s a famous chef! I’m so sophisticated.” For dinner, we ordered salads and a pizza to share. But, this was not my hometown pizza, slathered with tomato sauce, gooey cheese and your standard toppings…no, we ordered pizza with figs. And prosciutto. And goat cheese. And oh, as I bit into a slice, I thought to myself “I’m eating a pizza with figs! I am so sophisticated.” But beyond my self-awareness (which yes, is funny to look at in hindsight) I was amazed at how really wonderful a combination figs and goat cheese were on a pizza. Sweet and tart and savory…amazing.


It was one of those experiences that created an indelible memory for me, and taught me that there was a world of flavor combinations out there ready for me to discover: all I had to do was seek them out and eat with an open mind. Figs and goat cheese and prosciutto have remained one of my favorite food pairings, though what I’ve since found I like even more with them are a bit of arugula. A bite combining those flavors is, to me, pretty perfect: savory, salty, a bit sweet, and touched with arugula’s pepperiness. Delicious.

We love this combination on pizza (though it’s also fantastic in a sandwich, or as a crostini topping.) I spread the fig spread on the crust, top it with crumbled fresh local goat cheese, and bake it; once it comes out of the oven I add soft folds of prosciutto and a generous handful of arugula that I’ve drizzled with a little good olive oil and sprinkled with just a bit of coarse sea salt. It’s wonderful, and always brings me back to that dinner in Boston when I was so wide-eyed and ready to absorb all the experiences life had in store for me.


On a (non-food related) note, I was taking a walk the other day and guess what I came upon?

A red-tailed hawk. About 15 feet in front of me, scoping out a bunch of squirrels that were hunting for seeds on the ground. One squirrel ran right up to the hawk before he realized what a huge mistake he was making.


Then the hawk took off, flew right by me – close enough for me to reach out and touch – and swooped close to the squirrels…


…only to miss and alight up on a tree to better survey the situation.


Super exciting! A truly beautiful bird. Stuff like this makes my whole day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fig, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza

I’ve recently been making my pizza dough with a little semolina flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand), for a little boost of flavor. Also, I’ve been cranking the oven up a little higher than I was, to 525 or 550 degree F — as high as my oven will go — as I’m finding the higher heat + baking stone is a better simulation of a traditional bread or pizza oven. You get a crust that’s nicely crisp on the outside but chewy inside; I love it.

view printable recipe

1 lb pizza dough (I most often use the recipe listed here, using 2 cups AP flour + 1 cup semolina flour)
fig spread (recipe below)
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
about 2 ounces prosciutto
two generous handfuls of arugula, gently tossed with a little olive oil and coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 525 or 550 degrees F with a baking stone inside. Place your pizza crust on a lightly floured pizza peel (or the back of a lightly floured aluminum sheet pan). Spread some fig spread on your pizza crust, enough to coat it but not too thick. Dot with crumbled goat cheese, then slide the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes. Take the pizza out and top with folds of prosciutto and a mound of dressed arugula.

Fig Spread

This spread is just sweet enough — more like a savory & sweet fig puree than a cloyingly sweet jam.

4 ounces dried black Mission figs, chopped
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or ruby port
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. Add the chopped dried figs, the balsamic vinegar and the red wine, scraping up any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Once the wine is almost evaporated, add the water and sugar. Simmer to reduce until the water is mostly evaporated and the figs are soft. Pour the mixture into a food processor and puree to the thickness you desire (I like mine fairly smooth.) Remove and cool; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2009 10:43 pm

    That looks incredible!

  2. April 6, 2009 10:43 pm

    Lovely…Are Friday night pizzas in the future? Those posts were some of the first memories of your blog ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. April 7, 2009 5:52 am

    Amy: Too weird that we both posted arugula/prosciutto pizza! Crazy. And, to top it all off, when we were in Boston, Kevin’s parents and sister went to Figs the night after we left (they stayed a day longer). I bet they felt *so* sophisticated. : )

  4. April 7, 2009 7:38 am

    Thanks Liz!

    Whitney — I might just have to resurrect them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now that the farmer’s market is starting again, I have new topping possibilities!

    Kristin – it *is* crazy! We must have been on the same subliminal pizza wavelength. And, yes, I giggle when I think of how I was so wide-eyed to have thought that eating a fig-topped pizza equated to instant sophistication. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. April 7, 2009 10:30 am

    I loved the pizza at the Figs branch in Wellesley (which unfortunately closed down)….mmm, portobello.

  6. Sarah permalink
    April 7, 2009 11:09 am

    This pizza! Looks absolutely fantastic! It might take some persuading to convince my husband of that, but I think that it looks wonderful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Beautiful pictures of the hawk!

  7. Vanessa permalink
    April 7, 2009 12:31 pm

    I dig figs… totally trying this one out. Great idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. April 7, 2009 3:49 pm

    This looks great – one of my favorite homemade pizza combinations is roasted garlic/olive oil sauce, goat cheese, figs, toasted walnuts, and honey. I’ll have to try your version next time, especially the fig puree.

  9. April 7, 2009 4:48 pm

    This is so beautiful! I love when these aesthetically lovely elements can come together with such simplicity and deliciousness.

  10. April 7, 2009 8:18 pm

    Oh no little squirrel!! That’s a great capture. I would love to know what that little guy was thinking (and I’d love to know what the hawk was thinking – dinner?!) Delicious looking pizza. I like non-traditional toppings on a pizza. Mmmmmm.

  11. Betsy permalink
    April 7, 2009 8:25 pm

    Yum, looks delicious! I love your hawk photos – neat!

  12. April 7, 2009 8:33 pm

    It looks wonderful, Amy. It’s certainly not a combination I would have thought of, but now I will certainly have to try this.

  13. April 8, 2009 12:51 am

    First of all, what a gorgeous red-tail hawk! And this pizza, oh this pizza, it sounds fabulous. What a great combination of flavors! I love your story of one of your first eating experiences in Boston! Great post.

  14. April 8, 2009 6:26 pm

    Such great flavors put together! That looks beautiful.

  15. April 8, 2009 7:59 pm

    Th flavors/ingredients are so wonderful and figs seem to avoid Minnesota. I am bereft.

  16. smallkitchenbigideas permalink
    April 8, 2009 9:55 pm

    The fig spread sounds like it would be delicious on pizza.

    I remember the first time I had a blue cheese and pear pizza. I remember thinking ‘I am eating pears on a pizza and I like it’ so I can relate.

  17. Sweetie Pie permalink
    April 9, 2009 8:04 am

    The combination of figs and goat cheese on a pizza is one of my absolute favorite combos. This one looks so good, and your photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing the pictures of the hawk too. How exciting!!

  18. April 10, 2009 7:53 am

    That pizza looks good! I like the sound of htat fig spread.

  19. April 10, 2009 4:43 pm

    Hannah – mmm, I didn’t even realize there was one in Wellesley. Too bad it closed..

    Sarah, Vanessa – thanks!

    Paige – ooh, that sounds delicious with the walnuts…yum!

    Anna – why thanks!

    Jen – I know…he realized he was running in the wrong direction when he was a few inches away from the hawk..yikes! I like non-traditional toppings on pizzas, too. We’re always up for experimentation.

    Betsy – thanks!

    Tiffany – give it a try; I think you’ll like it!

    Elyse – thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    thebitessite – thanks!

    Claudia – you could probably get dried figs in the grocery store, by the raisins…I seem to find they’re pretty widely available in most grocery stores. Good luck!

    smallkitchenbigideas — would you believe that’s a combination I haven’t tried yet (on a pizza, at least?) Definitely on the list; I’m sure it’s amazing.

    Sweetie Pie, Kevin – thanks!

  20. April 10, 2009 6:07 pm

    I make a pizza very similar to this with the sweet and savory!

    You might really like it!

  21. April 11, 2009 8:21 am

    i’ve walked by figs a few times on my way to savenouers and whole foods over there, next time i’ll have to stop ๐Ÿ™‚ love this combo! and how neat is that hawk?!?

  22. April 11, 2009 8:23 am

    Love sweet and savory pizza! My undying favorite is Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and pineapple. But my husband doesn’t approve of pineapple on pizza. Maybe I’ll give this one a whirl and see if I can change his mind about fruity pizzas. Thanks!

  23. April 22, 2009 10:51 am

    I just made this last week and it was amazing, Thanks for sharing!

  24. ADD permalink
    May 28, 2010 9:03 pm

    My family loves your fig spread! The prosciutto and arugula on top are great (at least for the adults). I also like to put sauted leeks on the pizza.

  25. Brad permalink
    February 8, 2012 3:05 pm

    If you ever make your way up to the North Shore, Swampscott specifically, there is a great restaurant/bar called Red Rock Bistro. The food is amazing (though a bit pricey) and the views of the Boston skyline are equally sublime. Oh yeah, and the Lobster Flatbread Pizza: black mission fig jam, great hill blue cheese, scallion drizzle.

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