Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I used to claim that I didn’t like cooked fruit at all, and then that I didn’t like it in savory contexts, but lately there’s been a lot of evidence that I’ve become intrigued—some might say borderline obsessed—with pairing apples and pears with meat, probably because of the irresistible sweet-salty contrast. As soon as I turned the page to this recipe in last month’s Cooking Light, I tore it out, began trolling the online version for user reviews (it has a 5-star rating so far, I’m pleased to report), and eagerly awaited a chance to make it. Before I got an opportunity, my parents arrived for a visit and whisked us away on a trip to San Diego, during the course of which we ate at a CPK-style “gourmet” pizza restaurant, where I ordered…a pear and prosciutto pizza. The connection barely occurred it me at the time—it just looked like the most appealing thing on the menu to me at that particular moment—but when I got home and took another look at this recipe, I realized it was nearly an exact clone of the pizza I ate, down to the vinegar-dressed arugula salad on top. On the plus side, the restaurant’s version had gorgonzola, which I don’t normally love but which pairs beautifully with pears (I might add it to this recipe the next time I make it). But on the minus side, their pizza was drowning in dressing, leaving the arugula oily and the flavor overwhelmed by vinegar. When I set out to finally make my own, I was confident the homemade version would be better.

And, surprise! Of course it was better. (I tried to generate a bit of suspense with that paragraph break, but I think you know me too well to fall for it.) This being Cooking Light, I didn’t have the sodden-greens problem; there was no oil in the dressing and just the right (i.e., moderate) amount of vinegar. The combination of the caramelized onions, salty prosciutto, sweet pear, and peppery arugula was perfect. It tasted decadent, but the raw greens on top kept it feeling fresh and light—like a main dish and a salad in one! I feel like I always say this when I like something (particularly a pizza), but it’s true—I can’t wait to make it again.

A few notes:
  • The CL recipe called for a 12-ounce premade pizza crust, but as usual, I was using Trader Joe’s pizza dough, which comes in a 1-pound ball, so my pizza was larger and I slightly increased the topping quantities accordingly. I didn’t really take note of the measurements I used, just eyeballed however much cheese and prosciutto it took to cover the crust.
  • I used mozzarella instead of Provolone, because I prefer it and it’s what I had on hand. It was nice and neutral, lending a creamy texture without getting in the way of the other flavors. However, as I mentioned, a little sprinkling of Gorgonzola could amp this up even more.
  • I used a D’Anjou pear, ever-so-slightly underripe. It worked well.
  • I’m not sure how much the walnuts added to the mix. I couldn’t taste them much, and the texture clashed a bit with the rest of the ingredients, and they had a tendency to roll off the pizza when you picked it up to take a bite, so I’d understand if you wanted to omit them. But since I usually have them around, I’ll probably keep on including them.
  • I think I used more arugula than the recipe called for (certainly more than is shown in the CL photo)—about two generous handfuls. I like to get my vitamins without bothering with a side salad.
  • The original recipe called for sherry vinegar, but I subbed balsamic, since I didn’t have sherry, I like the taste of balsamic, and I believe the restaurant version used it.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
1 pound pizza dough
½ to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 medium-to-large pear, thinly sliced
2 ounces prosciutto, cut or torn into thin strips
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
1½ to 2 cups baby arugula leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.

3. Roll out pizza dough and place on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Top evenly with onion mixture; sprinkle with cheese. Top evenly with pear and prosciutto. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.

4. Sprinkle pizza with nuts. Place arugula in a medium bowl, drizzle with vinegar, and toss gently to coat. Top pizza evenly with arugula mixture.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good, but if you plan on having leftovers, don’t perform Step 4 for the entire pizza, only the part that you’re planning on eating right away. Store the pizza, walnuts, arugula, and vinegar in separate containers and don’t combine them until after the pizza has been reheated.


Bridget said...

I made a really similar pizza a few days ago, and I loved it! It had figs instead of pears, gorgonzola instead of mozzarella, and no walnuts. So, that's another one you might want to give a try!

the messy nest said...

Try goat cheese instead of the Gorgonzola - crazy amazing!