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Fig, pear, and blue cheese pizza

June 11, 2008

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Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for sprinkling
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
1 pound pizza dough, store-bought or homemade, at room temperature
Cornmeal (for the baking sheet)
2/3 cup fig jam
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon dried thyme, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
2 firm, ripe pears, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
1. In a medium skillet over very low heat, heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until they are melted and golden. (If you're in a hurry, cook the onions for 10 minutes or until they soften.) Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Set the oven at 400 degrees. On a large, cool work surface, knead the rosemary into the pizza dough. (If you've made the dough, add the rosemary at the mixing stage.) Roll the dough to a thin round about 14 inches in diameter. It does not need to be precisely round; oblong or even semi-rectangular is fine, too. Lightly sprinkle a rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and ease the rolled-out dough onto it.

3. Spread a thin, even layer of fig jam over the dough. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the thyme.

4. Arrange the pears in even, concentric circles on the pizza and scatter the crumbled blue cheese over the pears. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and a pinch of cayenne and salt.

5. Place the pizza (on the baking sheet) in the oven. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the baking sheet with the pizza from the oven. Carefully slide the pizza off the pan and directly onto the oven rack. (This will crisp the bottom.)

6. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Slide the pizza back onto the pan and lift it out of the oven.

7. Spread the caramelized onions on top of the pizza, drizzle with more olive oil, and return the pizza to the oven rack, sliding it off the sheet again. Cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, or until the edges are brown and the bottom is crisp.

8. Remove the pizza from the oven (using the pan as necessary to maneuver it) and place it on a cutting board to cut into wedges.

Adapted from John F. Page