This pizza is like a high end cheese board but on a pizza. It combines the rich sweet savouriness of caramelized fennel, with the tartness of poached pears. Combined with herby pesto and funky, creamy blue cheese. If you’re looking for a truly grown up pizza, then this is for you. Have it on a warm spring night with a good glass of red wine, or even a smokey whiskey. Perfection.
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Any of my friends will tell you, I love making pizzas. And I especially love taking flavour combinations that I enjoy from elsewhere in the food world, and putting them on pizza.
I had not eaten fennel until I began working in kitchens about 10 years ago. I’m not really a fan of licorice, so I think I assumed I wouldn’t like it. Thankfully this was not the case and I now enjoy fennel much more often. Two summers ago I actually made pesto using basil and the fronds of the fennel bulb. It was so magical. If you aren’t sure how to make pesto (funky or normal) check out my Anything Pesto post.
Once I started cooking with fennel, I found it was mild, but very complex. It can be savoury with touches of sweetness. It can add depth to soups and sauces without necessarily overpowering the other flavours. And it’s super yummy when it’s been caramelized. Something that I did for the first time a few years ago to top a wheel of baked, garlicky brie. YUM. Caramelized fennel now regularly makes appearances on my cheese platters. Alongside, poached pears…
Don’t be afraid of poaching. It’s not complicated and can yield excellent results. Poached pears are so darn tasty. The first time I made them for Mike, I had a hard time keeping him from just eating them straight out of the pot. That time, we were eating them atop a very rich Chocolate Cake, but soon started eating them in and on everything. On ice cream, in sandwiches, alone in a bowl covered in whipped cream. They’re seriously delicious. On a cheese platter (and this pizza) however, they pair wonderfully with caramelized fennel, and a rich, creamy, blue cheese. We also always boil down the poaching liquid into a syrup that gets drizzled on this pizza. And on every bowl of ice cream that we eat in the near future.
So essentially, this pizza is a big pile of flavours that I love, atop a fluffy and chewy Pizza Crust. You can bake this pizza in a wood fired pizza oven, on the BBQ or in your oven on a Pizza Stone. Be aware that if you’re using a wood fired oven, the sugary fennel and pears, can burn quickly. The following recipe will give directions for baking in a standard oven on a Pizza Stone.
Fennel & Pear Pizza
- 1 Fennel Bulb
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 3 Firm Pears Aim for slightly under ripe, or your pears will be mushy
- 1 Bottle of Tart Red Wine
- 175 g Sugar
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 tsp Anise Seeds
- 1 Cardamom Pod
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice
- 1 tbsp Orange Zest
- 4 Tbsps Pesto
- Pizza Dough for Two 8" Personal Pizzas Recipe linked above.
- 1/4 cup Blue Cheese
- The Poached Pears and the Caramelized Fennel can be made simultaneously.
- Combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon, anise seeds, cardamom pods, orange juice and zest in a pot. Begin heating it over medium heat.
- Peel the pears. Cut them in half, remove the cores and the fibrous bottom end. You can leave the stems on if you want. It can help to pick them up later, but not necessary.
- Put the pears into the poaching liquid. Make sure the liquid covers the pears. If it doesn't, you can top it up with some water.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for 35-45 minutes. Until the pears are easily stabbed with a butter knife, but not mushy. Once done, gently scoop out the pears and set aside. Once cooled, slice one or two of the halves to use for the pizzas. Store the rest in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, and enjoy on ice cream, pie, cake, anything!
- Bring the remaining liquid up to a boil and reduce it down to about 1 1/4 cup. It should be thick and syrupy.
- Remove the fronds, tops and the first few outer leaves.
- Cut in half, remove the core, and slice into thin strips.
- Heat the olive oil and butter over medium low heat in a heavy bottomed frying pan.
- Add the fennel, and cook, stirring regularly. After about 10 minutes they will have begun to soften and take on s bit of colour. Sprinkle the sugar over the fennel and stir to combine.
- Continue to cook until the fennel is caramel coloured, and very soft. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat a pizza stone in your oven to 525F
- Roll out 1 of your pieces of dough to about 8". Sprinkle cornmeal onto a pizza peel, and place the rolled out dough onto the peel.
- Spread the dough with 2 tbsps of pesto. Evenly top with half the fennel. Lay half of your sliced pears in a circle around the pizza. Finally, top with half the blue cheese, as crumbled as you can.
- Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and everything is bubbly and beginning to crisp.
- Repeat with the second pizza. Drizzle both pizzas with the reduced poaching liquid, and enjoy!