The first time I saw a fennel bulb I thought that if it wasn’t poisonous, it would definitely be bitter. I was wrong. It does have a slightly medicinal quality to it in the way that certain herbs do, but that makes sense because it’s really good for you.
It tastes sweet and clean and a bit astringent. Fennel isn’t a frail herb like cilantro. This plant has substance; a big fat bulb with sturdy stalks similar to celery. It’s become my secret ingredient and it’s a main component to this pizza where I incorporate not only the bulb and stalks, but also the seeds, which are central to authentic Italian cooking.
The fun thing about pizza is that I can throw a bunch of seemingly unrelated items together and make something new. I’ve been experimenting and have found that almost any combination that tastes good on a salad will also be good on a pizza. For these mini pizzas I started with a classic herb and cheese crust. I used good olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of tomato sauce. For the toppings I did a hot layer of fennel and blue cheese, and then a cold layer once it came out of the oven. of meats and fresh tomatoes.
- 1 package pre-made pizza dough - I used Trader Joe's herb crust
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal - for the pan
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil I use California Olive Ranch, Miller's Blend - plus enough extra to grease your pizza pan ( I use a spray pump to coat the pan)
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 small bulb of fresh fennel
- 2 tablespoons of grated Romano/Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning or Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbled
- 8 slices of thinly sliced spanish prosciutto
- 8 slices of thinly sliced dry spanish chorizo
- 2 fresh heirloom tomatoes sliced thin.
- Preheat your oven to 480 degrees. Spray a large pizza pan or stone olive oil and dust with corn meal. Divide your pizza dough into eight pieces. Flatten each piece onto the pan using a rolling pin or stretch with your hands. Using a pastry brush, paint each pizza with a thin layer of olive oil. Follow by brushing on the balsamic vinegar. Then, sprinkle each pizza evenly with Parmesan/Romano cheese, hot pepper flakes, pizza spice and fennel seeds.
- Remove the foliage and all but and inch or two of the stalk from the top of the fennel bulb. Cut off the bottom 1/2" of the bulb and discard. Set the bulb with the flat bottom facing you. Slice vertically through the remaining bulb, creating long very thin cross-sections of fennel. Place a slice of fennel onto each pizza and then top with the blue cheese crumbles.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pizzas are nicely browned and cooked throughout.
- Remove from the oven. Tuck a piece of chorizo and a piece of prosciutto next to each other and anchor with a tomato slice.
- Serve immediately.
Top the pizza dough with blue cheese and fennel slice before baking.