This recipe is very near and dear to my heart. I’m a little surprised I’m even sharing it. Usually when I find something I like, I keep it to myself lest everyone else realize its special-ness as well. I mean, the second I find a cool coffee shop or restaurant, I turn to whoever is with me and swear them to secrecy so I don’t go there and find a thousand people from school in my new favorite spot. Sure, call me selfish, but I like to keep my favorite places exclusive from other compartments of my life.
Making pizza is as much a part of who I am as… I dunno… my hair. Well, not quite, but almost. For as long as I can remember, every Friday night, my family gathered together to make pizza. Some weeks we’d be more creative than others with homemade dough, prepped bowls of finely-chopped toppings and measured drizzles of olive oil. Some weeks, we’d buy a few pounds of pizza dough and throw a bunch of leftovers on top. If it’s been in the fridge, it’s been on one of our pizzas.
We’ve had eggs and bacon pizza. Broccoli and bacon pizza. Meatball pizza. Potato chip and hot dog pizza. Chinese food pizza. Taco pizza. White pizza. Chicken parm pizza. Roasted vegetable pizza. You get the picture — we eat way too much pizza.
The tradition started out with our little family spreading an old blanket out on the living room floor, setting the floor with paper plates and napkins and filling our cups with a “special” drink.. a mixture of juice and sparkling water. We’d rent a movie or watch whatever was on TV Friday night. I think we’ve watched every episode of Monk that has ever aired.
We did this, without fail, every Friday night. Sometimes my brother or I would invite a friend over and they’d share in our tradition. Even when we got busy, even when we had other plans, we always, always, always had a pizza picnic on the floor on Friday nights.
When we turned 12, my brother and I each learned how to make pizza. We learned how to take a blob of dough from the package to the flour-covered counter and how to stretch it with our hands, all without tearing it. We learned how much olive oil is too much, how many toppings can fit on a single pizza without causing the dough to rip, how long it should cook to be perfectly done, how long the bricks need to heat up and how much cornmeal needs to go on the peel in order for it to transition smoothly into the oven.
This tradition has survived divorce. It’s survived both my brother and me going through puberty. It’s survived me moving to Oklahoma. It’s survived four different homes in the span of three years.
This specific pizza earned two thumbs up from my mom and me and one neutral thumb from my brother who thought that figs on a pizza were “weird.” He took matters into his own hands and made a meat extravaganza (any and all meat in the fridge) pizza. Typical. That’s him in the pictures, showing off his muscles as he works the dough.
The one thing I’d change? Don’t cook the arugula in the oven. As soon as it comes out, top the pizza with fresh arugula and let it wilt onto the pizza itself. It lost a lot of the tangy flavor from being baked.
Fig, Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza
1 lb. fresh pizza dough
1/4 lb. prosciutto, finely chopped
1/4 c. chopped green onions
2 tbsp. fig preserves
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 c. ricotta cheese
3/4 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 c. arugula
1 tbsp. cornmeal
If you’re using pizza bricks, place end-to-end in oven and preheat at 450 degrees. If using a pizza stone or cookie sheet, simply preheat oven to 450 degrees. I used bricks, so that’s what you’re seeing in the photos. Remove dough from package and stretch with your hands until the desired thickness and roundness is achieved. Place on floured countertop. In small bowl, microwave fig preserves, olive oil and basil for 1 minute and stir. On a pizza peel (or stone or cookie sheet), sprinkle evenly with cornmeal, making sure the very edges of the peel are coated in cornmeal. Any exposed dough will stick to the peel and make it very difficult to transfer into the oven.Coat pizza with mixture using the back of a spoon, taking special care to reach to the edges of the dough. Drop small spoonfuls of ricotta on dough, then sprinkle with green onions and prosciutto. Evenly distribute mozzarella over the top. When topping pizza, move quickly so the dough does not have time to stick to the peel. If using the brick and peel method (recommended), open oven and make sure the rack with bricks is pushed fully against the back of the oven. Quickly shake dough onto bricks. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust is cooked through. When pizza is done, remove immediately from oven and top with arugula. Let cool for a few minutes, then, using a pizza cutter, slice into 8 pieces.