Way back in November, contributor Jackie Alpers shared with us this recipe for Fennel, Bleu Cheese and Chorizo Pizza, and we fell in love. As a B+T Editor Favorite we just had to share it again with all of our new friends. Enjoy! --David
(Recipe, words and images all by guest contributor Jackie Alpers)
The first time I saw a fennel bulb I thought that if it wasn't poisonous, it would definitely be bitter. I was wrong. It does have a slightly medicinal quality to it in the way that certain herbs do, but that makes sense because it's really good for you.
It tastes sweet and clean and a bit astringent. Fennel isn't a frail herb like cilantro. This plant has substance; a big fat bulb with sturdy stalks similar to celery. It's become my secret ingredient and it's a main component to this pizza where I incorporate not only the bulb and stalks, but also the seeds, which are central to authentic Italian cooking.
The fun thing about pizza is that I can throw a bunch of seemingly unrelated items together and make something new. I've been experimenting and have found that any combination that tastes good on a salad will also be good on a pizza. For these mini pizzas I started with a classic herb and cheese crust. I used good olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of tomato sauce. For the toppings I did a hot layer of fennel and blue cheese, and then a cold layer once it came out of the oven. of meats and fresh tomatoes.
- 1 package pre-made pizza dough - I used Trader Joe's herb crust
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal - for the pan
- 2tablespoons good olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch, Miller's Blend) - plus enough extra to grease your pizza pan ( I use a spray pump to coat the pan)
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 small bulb of fresh fennel
- 2 tablespoons of grated Romano/Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbled
- 8 slices of thinly sliced spanish prosciutto
- 8 slices of thinly sliced dry spanish chorizo
- 2 fresh heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin.
Preheat your oven to 480 degrees. Spray a large pizza pan or stone olive oil and dust with corn meal. Divide your pizza dough into eight pieces. Flatten each piece onto the pan using a rolling pin or stretch with your hands. Using a pastry brush, paint each pizza with a thin layer of olive oil. Follow by brushing on the balsamic vinegar. Then, sprinkle each pizza evenly with Parmesan/Romano cheese, hot pepper flakes, pizza spice and fennel seeds.
Remove the foliage and all but and inch or two of the stalk from the top of the fennel bulb. Cut off the bottom 1/2" of the bulb and discard. Set the bulb with the flat bottom facing you. Slice vertically through the remaining bulb, creating long very thin cross-sections of fennel. Place a slice of fennel onto each pizza and then top with the blue cheese crumbles.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pizzas are nicely browned and cooked throughout.
Remove from the oven. Tuck a piece of chorizo and a piece of prosciutto next to each other and anchor with a tomato slice.
Jackie Alpers is an award winning photographer living in Tucson, Arizona. With her focus on the special relationships between people, culture, food and drink, Broadway+Thresher is especially pleased to be working with her. She can be found online at www.jackiealpers.com and www.jackieshappyplate.com.