September 1st, 2010

Fig Play Love


When Gigi planted a fig tree on the border of her urban garden four years ago, she had no idea that it would take to the place with such ardor. But the tree settled right in to its new home, rapidly spreading upward and outward: a sprawl of great leafed branches ultimately producing hundreds of honeyed knobs of fruit. “It seems very happy here,” we both observed. “This could be the year of the fig.”

Throughout July and August, I’d get calls from Gigi, field reports you might say, about the status of the figs.

“If these all ripen, well, this is one rockin’ fig tree,” was one update.

“Thousands of figs! I picked two 5lb. baskets in less than an hour.” was another.

Over weeks, and as the summer heat became more severe, Gigi cultivated a relationship with the beloved tree; to me, it was really a reverence:

“It’s unbearably hot, and I keep telling her how wonderful she is, making all this fruit.” She set up a special watering system, “I told her I’d take care of her. I know she’s thirsty.”


To date, She has produced enough figs to make 100 pints of preserves. One hundred pints from a four-year-old tree! It seems unimaginable—

but true! Despite temperatures stuck in the nineties and rainfall spare, Gigi’s mighty fig tree became so laden with plump fruit you could easily pick a basketful in no time at all.


Which, given the intense heat and the sticky milky mess that you get allover your hands and arms from picking, was a very good thing.

Gigi set up a system of ladders and planks within the inner sanctum of the tree, cloaked under the leafy branches. It was with childlike glee that I clambered up and around the limbs, concealed from the outer world, immersed in the heady enclave of fig leaves and fruit.

And, soon, I had picked a large bowlful of figs, most dark purple, some yellow-green with a flush of rouge, all exquisite, ripe, and beautiful.


It was time to try something new with my fig bounty. Last year, I made luscious preserves with Maggie. Gigi had already been playing with different recipes: cutting back on the sugar, adding ginger to some batches, orange juice in another, and white balsamic vinegar in yet another. All methods were cooked on the stovetop. While each batch was delicious, none had the figgy caramel syrup she was seeking.

Then, one afternoon, I got a text: “Roasting is the way.”

Why, of course! But wait, another text followed–

“No olive oil. Sugar and white balsamic vinegar only. 425 degrees.”


A-ha! (Love the economy of a texted recipe.)

After carefully rinsing my figs, I placed them on a baking sheetpan, along with a few wedges of lemon–my addition. Then, I dusted with sugar, sprinkled white balsamic vinegar over the batch, and put them into that hot oven to roast. It didn’t take long—ten minutes or so—and the figs got puffed and charred, coated in a rich caramel created from melting of the sugar, vinegar, and natural fig juices. It was amazing.

After scraping into jars, I processed some in a hot water bath, as I had with Maggie’s figs, but kept one jar in the fridge–ready for this pizza I’ve been dreaming about since we first made it last year, about this time.


Covered with roasted figs, shaved gorgonzola, leeks, and ripples of prosciutto, this is one dreamy pizza. And, don’t forget–A few sprigs of rosemary, and drizzle of the figgy syrup takes the dream to wonderland.


1 pkg. Dry Active Yeast (2 t.)
1 c. warm Water
1 3/4 c. Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Rye Flour
2 t. Sea Salt
1 T. Olive Oil

Sprinkle yeast into bowl of water, stir well, and let stand for 5 minutes to activate the yeast. Combine yeast water in a mixing bowl with flours, salt, olive oil. Mix until it forms into a ball. It will be moist, but not sticky. Cover and allow to rise for one hour.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Divide into two and form into balls. Cover and refrigerate, if you are not going to use immediately.
Otherwise, let stand out for 30 minutes, then roll out into whatever pizza shape—round, oblong, rectangle—suits you. Use additional flour, as needed, to prevent sticking.

Cover with toppings, and bake in a very hot oven–450 degrees–until browned and bubbly–10 minutes.

Roasted Figs and their syrup
Sliced Prosciutto
Diced Leeks
Shaved (or crumbled) Gorgonzola Cheese
Fresh Rosemary



Posted in Appetizers/Hors D'oeuvres, Breads, Egg/Cheese Dishes, Fruit, Recipes

23 Responses to “Fig Play Love”
  1. Michele Napoli Says:

    You were right, Nancy, we seem to be in perfect alignment. Although I am delighted that my fig tree is bearing fruit, I can’t help but be a tad bit envious of Gigi’s tree. What a beauty she is. The figs and the dishes you made from them are outrageous, and you can rest assured that I’ll be roasting my next batch of figs.

  2. Cristie Says:

    What a beautiful pizza! I want to reach right in and have a taste immediately! Wonderful to have such a great crop this year, so many things haven’t done very well in my part of the world. Happiness :)

  3. Tracy Says:

    I’m so sad. Figs are over here in Baltimore. We had our last big batch about two weeks ago. Now I’ll have to wait until next year. Roasting figs sounds just perfect and the pizza…oh my gosh :)

  4. amanda Says:

    that’s one gorgeous pizza. i just so happen to have some of those figs lying around…

  5. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Amanda–you DO just so happen to have a few of those figs lying around—-perhaps they will be pizza bound!

  6. Faith Says:

    I’m so jealous of your fig tree! I don’t think there’s anything better than fresh figs. Except maybe fresh figs on this pizza! Looks amazing.

  7. Barbara Says:

    That looks delicious, Nancy! I adore fresh figs. Pastry Studio ( has a wonderful fig bar posted right now. I’m going to try it for a coffee I’m giving in couple weeks. Check it out.

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks, Barbara—that’s twice today! Michele had it linked on her blog and I was impressed–now it’s an absolute confirmation!

  9. heather Says:

    That’s a pizza that would make an Italian envious! Wow, I’ve got to try that one, lots of my favorite flavors.

  10. Maggie Says:

    Wow, Nancy, this looks amazing!!! Isn’t nature a mystery, my figs still haven’t ripened yet. Perhaps it’s that the trees are still young? Anyway, if they ever do, I know what some are destined for!! Beautiful post!

  11. Judy Says:

    This looks beyond yummy — I can imagine sitting down and not getting up until it is all gone!

    Thanks, Nancy. You’ve inspired us again.

  12. rhonda Says:

    I am SO VERY lucky to have been at the third thursday dinner where you shared this wonderful pizza! Tasted as great as it looked! Thank you!

  13. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…it’s not often that as I’m reading and looking at a food photo…a strange feeling comes over me. The feeling that I can actually taste those roasted figs without realistically doing the action. This is what just came over me when I looked at your incredibly scrumptious pizza. The sweet and savoury along with the creamy and crunchy…is just too much for me to handle right now…especially since I just finished having a very simple salad!
    I truly love the way you blend ingredients…excellent.

    I’m so envious of that fig tree!!!

    Bless your fig bounty and your generous friends ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  14. Tonie Says:

    Can you grow fig trees here in Nashville?

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    yes, Tonie–isn’t it remarkable? Gigi’s tree is proof! I know of several other instances around town, too. Freedom Tree Farms out of Pelham Tennessee cultivates myriad fruit trees, these fig trees are among them.

  16. Mark Says:

    Nancy, These figs look divine! I love the pizza recipe. I planted a fig tree at my studio last year and it gave me 5 figs this year. They were so sweet! I can only hope my tree becomes like hers. Cheers

  17. my little expat kitchen Says:

    This pizza looks fantastic Nancy!! I’m drooling over it.
    I just love figs. In Greece we, too, have a tree in our back yard.
    Your friend is so so lucky!

  18. Nancy Says:

    Hi Nancy, Such a wonderful post – I can just taste those beautifully ripe figs! That is one happy tree, indeed. Terrific combination on the pizza along with the gongonzola and prosciutto — yum!

  19. Tammy Says:

    Gorgeous! I planted our fig tree just this year and am so hopeful that we’ll have a few next summer. I’ve become somewhat addicted to the Spanish fig and almond cakes.

  20. Juliana Says:

    Figs…I love figs but cannot find it here…and roasted figs…would love to try them…look so yummie!

  21., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Fantastic Figs! Definitely the time of year to play with this delicacy as they seem to abound all around our city environs…Gardens, Backyards, I drive about town I keep “Fig-Spotting”…thanks for the great fig ode…

  22. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Oh, Nancy, that pizza. I’m smitten.

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