Grilled Pizza with Fig, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese

Grilled Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese

The figs are here! The figs are here! This alone is exciting news in my house, but getting to them in our backyard before the birds? That’s really something to be thrilled about. With my excitement comes a fun and simple recipe for Grilled Pizza with Fig, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese.

Grilled pizza is something I’ve been meaning to try, but never have until now. I think this might be the only way I ever make pizza again! I love it, and think you will too. It reminds me of restaurant-style pizza cooked in a brick oven.

Grill your pizza! Add figs, prosciutto and blue cheese

This Grilled Pizza with Fig, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese has a great flavor combo: the salty blue cheese and prosciutto, the sweet figs, the peppery arugula, and the smoky pizza crust.

As if pizza couldn’t get any better, consider that it only takes a few minutes to cook this pizza on a grill.

Fresh purple figs

A huge fig tree grows tall and wide in our backyard. From the time we planted it as a scrawny twig, we’ve nurtured it and waited for it to produce its deep purple fruit. And now, twice a year, this beautiful tree is overflowing with dark figs. Most every season, the birds get to our figs before we do. They take a few bites from one before moving on to the next, leaving nothing for us but partially eaten fruit.

But this summer, somehow, we (barely) beat the birds and decided that Grilled Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese would be the first thing to make with our bounty.

My original thought was to make this into a bruschetta recipe. You know – the sort you’ve likely seen at your favorite wine bar or Italian restaurant. Then I thought it might be a little more fun to turn this into pizza. So glad I did!

Grilled Pizza

You need to work quickly when grilling pizza, and plan to have your ingredients nearby. I made this pizza as two smaller “personal” pizzas because it’s easier to work with two smaller rounds of dough than one large one.

I was pleasantly surprised with the result of the crust: a slightly charred and crispy outer crust, and a soft bite on the inside. If you can find fresh figs in your area, Grilled Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese is the way to go for a fab summer meal.

Recipe for Grilled Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto and Blue Cheese
Serves 2-4

Grilled Brie, Fig Jam and Dandelion Greens Sandwiches

This ain’t your standard grilled cheese sandwich. Grilled Brie, Fig Jam and Dandelion Greens Sandwiches are more distinctive than the average grilled cheese sandwich that you’d serve with tomato soup.

A fun sandwich: Grilled Brie, Fig Jam and Dandelion Greens Sandwiches

Don’t get me wrong. I love a standard grilled cheese: the soft-and-slightly crispy bread, buttered and golden. The gooey, golden cheese oozing out from the sides. It’s especially great when your fridge is all but empty and you’re hungry. But when you want something a little different, something that reminds you of all that’s great about standard fare, but that provides you with a touch of simple deliciousness, this is the sandwich to sink your teeth into.

The brie cheese is here for its mellowness and “cream-ability.” The fig jam is sweet, in a jam way. In a good way. And there we have the perfect complement to the bitter dandelion greens. Add your favorite rustic bread to the mix and you’re in for a doozy of a meal. I ate mine with a nice glass of wine.

Ingredients for grilled brie, fig jam and dandelion greens sandwiches

Growing up my parents ate dandelion greens whenever they were available (spring, early fall). I always hated them as a kid. “They’re bitter!” I’d yelp when served a plate as salad. Who wants to eat a bitter salad? Besides, I thought, “they’re weeds!” But I usually ate them, quickly, to get it over with. I often thought my parents were weird for some of the food they ate, but now I’ve learned to appreciate so much of what they grew and prepared.

My parents might think these Grilled Brie, Fig Jam and Dandelion Greens Sandwiches are weird. Maybe they are, but they’re delicious, so you won’t have to eat them quickly to “get it over with!”

Yummy grilled brie, fig jam, and dandelion greens sandwiches

For another recipe using dandelion greens, try my recipe for Bucatini with Wilted Dandelion Greens and Anchovy Sauce >>

Recipe for Grilled Brie, Fig Jam and Dandelion Greens Sandwiches
Serves 2

Gardening in Arizona is for the birds. But not this year.

My parents' tomatoes

I get that it’s dry in Arizona. I get that maybe the desert doesn’t have a lot of whatever it is birds eat. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s clearly something they manage to feast on because I see and hear them constantly around my house.

On several occasions my husband and I have tried to plant veggies and herbs in our desert yard but we haven’t been very successful, and I’m going to go ahead and blame the birds.

They eat just about everything, and typically either just after we’ve planted seeds (they dig them up), or right before we’re ready to pick something like a small, ripened cherry tomato. They don’t stop at vegetables, either. They love to pick the stuffing out of our patio furniture (now ruined) and tear the leaves and flowers off all wreaths hung on our front door. But this year? This year we were ready to defeat the birds!

Clearly it runs in the family

Dad with tomatoes the groundhogs left behind...

I grew up in Ohio with a family that always had a garden. Huge gardens, in fact. When I was really young the garden was really big. Each garden got progressively smaller as my family moved to a few different homes, but still, the gardens were big. Along with the designated garden area, there were spots where other vegetables grew, too, since my parents couldn’t seem to leave any piece of dirt unturned.

My mom and dad were really good at growing just about everything (my dad was a landscaper), although they had countless and continual run-ins with groundhogs, rabbits, deer and other critters that also enjoyed the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. They had their creatures that loved their garden, and we had the birds that loved ours.

...and green beans

My parents’ garden was always lush, and my dad was always infuriated. Why? Because of the groundhogs that were constantly in his garden, somehow breaking through all types of fencing he put up. He would yell and shake his fist at them, trying to shoo them away. After he tried the humane traps (which the groundhogs were usually too smart to fall for), he attempted sitting and waiting with a bb gun (also unsuccessful). His rantings would keep my family in stitches, even though it really was a shame they would eat so many of his plants. Those groundhogs grew to great sizes off the goods of the garden. It was a wonder my dad couldn’t catch them with his bare hands they were so big and waddled away so slowly!

My parents are from Italy and when my husband and I moved to Phoenix, they were thrilled to learn that many of the same fruits and vegetables they had in Italy could be grown here: fig trees, citrus trees, artichoke plants, olive trees, prickly pear cactus.

These were the things they couldn’t manage to grow in Ohio due to the mostly crummy weather. No matter how bad the winters were, my dad always said that Ohio had the most perfect weather anywhere in the states. Hmm. Okay, well, most people aren’t quite in agreement with him on that, but weather notwithstanding, my dad planted and tended to fig tress he kept planted in the yard during the summers and in large pots in the garage during the winters. He even built special dollies he used to carefully cart the trees in and out of the garage. They did, eventually, bare fruit. Not the big, juicy fruit he hoped for, but fruit.

Our fruit trees featuring Figgy

When my parents would visit Phoenix, they were overjoyed to see such hard-to-come-by (in Ohio) fruit trees and plants all around town, lining the sides of the roads. Our first home in Phoenix was an apartment and after moving in, we bought a tiny, skinny fig tree (Figgy) and planted it in a pot on our patio.

Figgy did very well in that pot, growing taller and even developing giant leaves. Before Figgy could outgrow her pot we moved to a house with a yard, where we promptly replanted her so she could finally branch out and stretch her roots.

The figs still need to ripen

We also planted a prickly pear cactus (which my dad helped pick out), and orange and lemon trees. It took about eight years before the citrus trees produced fruit, but once they did, we (and my parents) were thrilled!

Figgy took a bit longer, but eventually grew to produce hundreds of figs. The prickly pear cactus on the other hand, never bore fruit. Living in the desert for a while, we eventually discovered that not all prickly pear cactus bare fruit. This was something my parents could never comprehend. Every year when they came to visit they would tell me to go back to the nursery where we bought the cactus and tell them there’s something wrong with it. We would try to explain the situation to them, but they just couldn’t imagine a prickly pear cactus with no fruit!

We’ve lived happily with the cactus with no fruit and our lemon and orange trees. We often sent oranges and lemons back to Ohio to everyone’s glee.

But Figgy? Figgy is another story. She’s big and beautiful and has large broad leaves. She almost looks regal as she stands so tall, and she produces hundreds of figs. The birds love her as much as we do. Each spring into summer, when the green fruit begin to appear, we get so excited. I call my parents and tell them, “The figs are here!” and they would share in the excitement.

But every year, heading out to pick the ripened purple fruit, we would discover the birds had ruined it for us — those birds (imagine me shaking my fist)! They love our figs as much as we do, and they eat way more than their fair share. But instead of eating one entire fig and moving on to the next one, they take two or three bites out of every, single fig so that they’re ruined for us to enjoy. It’s so wasteful, not to mention aggravating, and I now understand how my dad felt about those groundhogs nibbling away at his garden!

We finally have a garden

This year we planted a raised bed garden in our yard. We bought our seeds, seedlings and netting (to keep the birds out) and planted what we hoped would soon be our thriving garden.

Our small raised bed garden

The netting covered all but one small piece of the garden box. “Oh well,” we thought. “No biggie.” We figured the netting in general would distract the birds and they wouldn’t even notice the small open section. WRONG! Via the small hole, the birds were not only able to eat some of the seeds we planted, but they took several bites from the first tomato to ripen. Of course they did! So we bought more netting to cover the holes, and believe it or not, we’ve got a bunch of vegetables growing!

Retouched Arizona tomatoes

Our Arizona tomatoes

The garden looks great if you can see past the mish-mash of netting draped over it. A more organized set up is something to address next year, but for now, we have a garden! Also on our list: Drape Figgy with some netting, too. Since she’s huge, we’ll only be able to cover a portion of her, but that will hopefully leave us with enough figs to make a little jam and some other goodies (more to come in the months ahead).

So take that, birds! We’ve outsmarted you….for now….