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):

 

Sage Polenta Bowl with Parmesan, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms

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This time last year: Fall Harvest Vegetarian Stuffing (2013)

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Man, time flies, doesn’t it?

It feels like just yesterday I was at home, filling my plate full of sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and homemade rolls. Oh my goodness gracious, it was SO good!

I’m telling you all, veggie Thanksgiving is where it’s at. No turkey to make you sleepy, and all of the carbs and homemade goodness you could ever dream up. I can feel myself drooling now.

 

When the weather gets cold and the work load keeps getting harder, I dream of home. I dream about those moments around the table with my family, maybe some jazz music floating therough the speakers, always some kind of sweet potato dish being served (duh!).

When going home is not an option, which is unfortunately, almost always the case, I find myself eating soup instead. (Yes, some of us eat our feelings, and no, soup can not replace the comfort that comes with a family home cooked meal).

I think the warmth of a bowl of soup can push back the coldness of winter just a little bit, which can make the warmth of home feel a whole lot closer.

However, since leaving home 6 years ago, I’ve had a lot of soup, and sometimes you need something else warm.

CUE the Sage Polenta Bowls with Parmesan, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Wild Mushrooms.

This bowl is seasonal, warm, simple, and delicious. It is filling, while still healthy, and it meets all vegetarian and gluten free diets (two points for the picky eaters!).

Buy the ingredients and make this recipe this week. I promise, you will be so glad you did!

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts- rinsed, trimmed, and quartered
  • 1- 8 ounce package assorted wild mushrooms (fresh)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
2. Toss the Brussels Sprouts and mushrooms with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then arrange into one layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until slightly browned.
3. Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk the polenta into the water. Continue to whisk, without ceasing, for 3 minutes.
4. Remove the polenta from the heat, and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, the sage, and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Divide the polenta into four bowls, and top each with 1/4 of the roasted vegetables + 1 Tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Oh My Veggies!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below!):

Mac + Cheese Stuffed Brown Sugar Balsamic Portobellos

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This time last year: Homemade Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (2013)

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I think one of my favorite foods, in extremely close competition with sweet potatoes, are mushrooms.  Mushrooms are not only incredibly flavorful (I mean, have you seen those Garlic Parmesan Mushrooms?!?!), but they also are so very good for you- low in fat, high in iron, and a good source of protein.  What’s not to love?

After you sauté these bad boys in a little balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, you could eat them straight. Stuffing them with mac and cheese, makes them literally irresistible!

So, if a healthier take on comfort food sounds like your dream, then look no further!

If you’re looking for a good vegetarian entree, then look no further!

If mac and cheese is your jam, or you happen to have a left over tub in your fridge, then look no further!

This dish is a winner, love at first bite.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups (leftover) macaroni and cheese
  • 2 ounces freshly grated cheese (your favorite kind!)
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs

Breadcrumb Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/3 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  2. Prepare the mushrooms: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once warm, add the mushrooms, stem side up, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Flip once more and add the vinegar and brown sugar, evenly coating the mushrooms.  Cook for one more minute and then remove from the heat.
  3. Assemble: Scoop heaping spoonfuls of mac and cheese (at least 1/2 cup) into each mushroom. (The mac and cheese can be straight from the fridge!). Place in the oven, until the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Prepare the breadcrumbs: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk until it bubbles.  The minute the brown bits begin to form on the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat and whisk for an additional 30 seconds.  Let the butter stand for 2 minutes, then whisk in the garlic and bread crumbs.
  5. Top: As soon as the mushrooms are done cooking, cover them with the breadcrumbs, herbs, and green onions, and serve immediately!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Source: How Sweet It Is
  • Like this recipe? Check out these other winner from A Rented Kitchen (recipe links 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!

Asparagus Gruyere Tart

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This time last year: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes (2012)

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Less is more.

You’ve heard it before- “Less is more.”

However, how often do we actually remember that?’

I have a hunch, that more often than not, the wish for less work and more yummies comes to mind around the dinner hour, when we find ourselves hungry and not in the mood to spend hours in the kitchen.

I feel you there, and thus am very happy to share this simple and scrumptious meal!

This recipe, is a perfect example of less is more, done perfectly. With only four ingredients, and one baking sheet, you can have a scrumptious meal or appetizer on you hands in mere minutes.

Not a fan of asparagus? Feel free to switch out these veggies with something else, such as sliced tomato, mushroom, or onion. You can’t go wrong, but remember, sometimes, less is more 🙂

Happy eating, and come back soon!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 rectangular pizza dough or frozen puff pastry
  • 2 cups (5 1/2 ounces) Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 ˚ F, or to temperature directed on frozen dough container.
  2. Roll out the dough out into a rectangle, folding the edges up slightly.
  3. Place the pastry on a baking sheet, and with a sharp knife, lightly score the dough.  Bake until golden, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pastry dough from the oven, and evenly sprinkle with Gruyere. Arrange the asparagus spears across the tart shell, alternating ends and tips. Brush the asparagus with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: Martha Stewart
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious treats from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below photos):