Fig, Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

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This time last year: Iced Sugar Cookies (2012) & How To: Cut and Deseed a Pomegranate (2013)

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I grew up eating fig newtons. That’s about as close as I got to figs.

A box would show up in the pantry if we were lucky, or if my grandmother was coming into town, and my brother and I would sneak one every chance we could!
Fig newtons were not a staple, but they sure were delicious.

I went backpacking through Peru last summer. It was six weeks of the most life I have ever lived, day after day after day. I hiked, I helped build homes, I learned about ancient Incan medicine, I danced in cobblestone bars, I ate avocados fresh from the market like they were going out of style, and I tried, but failed, to learn the names of countless beautiful fruits I had never seen before.

One of those days I was sitting with my group of fellow backpackers, at a beautiful patio table in the courtyard of our hostel in Cusco, and someone brought out an enormous plastic blue bowl full of fruit. They had cut these exotic creations, cleaned them, and here they was- sitting like a pile of jewels, right in front of us.
I ate each piece slowly, trying to imprint those flavors, that beautiful creation, into my memory. It was in this slow and respectful indulgence, that I found myself face to face with my first fig.

It sounds silly, but I think I actually gasped at how beautiful that first fig was! The inside of a fig, in case you have not had this privilege yet, looks like a stained glass window! It has hundreds of tiny little seeds, and a vibrant pink color. There is no other word, but stunning. I will never forget it. The other thing that will not allow me to forget this moment, is the feeling that I should have seen a real fig prior to this moment in my life! We have figs in the states as well, why were fig newtons my primary exposure? I remember laughing at myself as I asked the Spanish name of this familiar fruit, and bit into it with delight.

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This pizza does not have fresh figs (however if you have access to them, you should absolutely include them!), however it does have fig jam. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic, or maybe I was feeling creative, or bold, or adventurous. Whatever the reason, my new all-time favorite pizza recipe ever, has roots in a little big of nostalgia, a little bit of adventure, and nothing but delicious ingredients.

> So- dig in! It’s good to live life fully.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Fruit flavored if you have it! I used a cherry balsamic vinegar!)
  • 1 Naan pizza crust
  • 3 Tablespoons fig jelly/ preserves
  • 1/2 cup Arugula leaves (about 1 handful- more or less to preference!)
  • 1/2 pear, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, to preference
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the onion slices and sauté until soft and light brown.
  4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, cooking for an additional 30 seconds, and then remove from the heat.
  5. Spread the fig jelly in an even layer over the pizza crust, and top with a layer of arugula.
  6. Arrange the pear slices and caramelized onion over the arugula, and then cover with goat cheese and shredded parmesan to your preference!
  7. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust toasted!
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!
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Notes and Tips!:
  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen as well! (recipe links found below):

 

Mexican Corn Dip

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This time last year: Crispy Butterfinger Cookies (2012)

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Sometimes it is cold outside and you just need something warm and delicious in your belly.

Today is one of those days.

The leaves have turned here in Atlanta, and fall has officially made its’ appearance. However, fall was ushered in along with two straight days of cold rain, chilling all of us southerners to the bone.

Thus, my weekly lunch needed a little pick-me up, and this recipe is the perfect amount of warmth and kick to make your head-down, windy, rain soaked walk a little bit warmer 🙂

Happy cooking, and come back soon!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 ears corn, shucked and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, or more, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • Juice of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over high heat.
  2. Add the corn and the jalapeño to the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred. (About 8-10 minutes).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and serve warm!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Damn Delicious
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen (Recipe links found below):

Oven Roasted Balsamic Caprese Kabobs

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This time last year: Vegan Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili with Homemade Tortilla Chips (2012)

Leonardo Da Vinci said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  I think this recipe can attest to that.

With only five ingredients, probably 75% of which you already have in your kitchen, you will be amazed at how delicious such a simple recipe is. And if you’re like me, you’re likely to be amazed that this incredible and delicious possibility has been living in your kitchen all along and you are just now discovering it! Sneaky recipe!

The flavor combination is simple. You’ve had it before. However, as Di Vinci said, there is something about simplicity that can be so beautiful, so delicious, and so right; so give it a try!

In addition to being 100% delicious, this recipe is not going to break the bank, take up too much of your time, and can keep for several days in the fridge! Win-win-win.

SO, what are you waiting for? Get cooking! Something simply delicious is waiting.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of mozzarella balls (I used Bel Giosio Mozzarella balls!)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil + more for the pan
  • Salt and/or garlic powder (as desired)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped basil (fresh or from your spice rack!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F, and brush a baking sheet with a light layer of olive oil.
  2. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar (add a dash of salt and/or garlic powder if desired!)
  3. Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft, wrinkly, and plump, but not yet popped.
  4. Once cooked, remove the tomatoes from the heat and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then arrange them on skewers, alternating between tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with basil and serve warm!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen!

Strawberry Caprese Salad

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This time last year: Marinated and Roasted Eggplant with Smoked Almonds & Goat Cheese (2013)

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It is hard to believe summer is coming to a close! This happens to me every year. One day I’m perusing my cook books- picking out recipes that are in season with the summer heat, and the next second it’s fall and I’ve still got strawberry and watermelon recipes to post! Woops.

This recipe, a delicious variation on the classic tomato and mozzarella caprese salad, is a perfect summer side dish. The fact that it is served room temperature or chilled makes it ideal for that summer heat, and the addition of strawberries and walnuts makes it a creative crowd pleaser!

It may not be quite time for pumpkin and cider, but time is flying before our eyes. So, while the nights are still long, give this dish a try, in honor of summer. I promise you will not regret it.

Come back soon!

xo A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rinsed, sliced strawberries
  • 1 bunch chopped basil
  • 1 cup bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Combine the strawberries, basil, mozzarella, and walnuts in a bowl. Toss gently.
  2. In a separate dish or jar, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt to taste.
  3. Drizzle the strawberry salad with the dressing and serve!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Edible San Fransisco
  • Store chilled
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious and healthy dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below:)

Fried Plantains: Sweet and Salty

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This time last year: Pudding Pops (2012)

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There was this perfect little Cuban restaurant just down the street from my apartment in Richmond.

I would run by it early in the morning and smell the freshly brewed Café con Leche. My friends and I would roll into it late at night- snag a booth and split some fresh warm cornbread, a beer, and fried plantains. It was perfect.

It was there, in that tiny neighborhood corner restaurant that I learned to love fried plantains.

I have had the privilege of enjoying fried plantains prior to that Cuban restaurant, however it was the many nights in those warm booths that caused me to appreciate fried plantains in a new way- as dessert, a salty appetizer, a warm crunchy salad topper, the perfect side dish, my snack craving on the go- the list goes on, and my appreciation runs deep!

Fast forward many moons, and I am missing those warm Richmond nights with the strong sweet smell of Cuban food floating through the neighborhood. Therefore, I did the only thing my nostalgia would let me do. I decided to try my hand at this classic recipe myself.

There are a few different ways to approach plantains- sweet and salty. I tried my hand at both, and have to say- you truly can’t go wrong! So, go ahead, try your hand at both, and let me know your favorite!

You have nothing to lose, and sweet new memories to gain.

Happy snacking!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil + more for frying as needed
  • Two large plantains
  • Freshly cracked Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Sugar

Directions:

1. Line a large plate with paper towels and set aside.
2. Peel the plantains and slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the plantains to the oil, flipping occasionally, and frying 2-4 minutes- or until a golden brown color. (The longer you fry the plantains, the sweeter they are)
4. Remove the plantains from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towels.
For salty plantains– sprinkle the tops of each piece with a generous dose of sea salt.
For sweet plantains– combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dredge the plantain slice through the bowl until coated with cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining slices.
For salty sweet plantains– dredge the plantain in the cinnamon sugar mix and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Enjoy!

 

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Notes and Tips!: 

  • Adapted from: The Food Network 
  • Ways to enjoy plantains:
    • The perfect crunchy and warm salad topping
    • Appetizer snack!
    • Serve them with whipped cream, ice cream, or drizzled with caramel sauce
    • Enjoy as a delicious side dish
    • Add them to your lunch box for a perfect office snack
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious snacks from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below photos)