Facebook recently reminded me that we’ve lived in California for 4 years and Santa Barbara for 3 full years now. I find this to be a bit of a mind-boggle as I gave SB 2 years, tops. I am from the PNW, and we are trained to disdain California and anything remotely Californian. People and avocados included. While I will probably never refer to myself as a Californian, especially when visiting my family in Nine Mile Falls, WA, I will admit that I’ve slowly come around to the charms of CA living.
It’s taken me longer than most to adapt, I think. I have this syndrome, or affliction. Maybe we just call it a neuroses, where I have a hard time fully enjoying comfortable or luxurious things. I feel that I am not worthy and haven’t earned them, so I just sort of ignore them instead of appreciating them. But, Santa Barbara has proven hard to ignore with her idyllic, temperate, Mediterranean climate, striking picturesque landscape, and access to a bounty of fresh produce year-round. After living that Santa Barbara life for 3 full years now, I think I can finally admit that I have fallen for this quaint little corner of California.
Honestly, I think the produce is what did me in. Have y’all ever had a persimmon picked from a friend’s yard or discovered a basket of free lemons and avocados set out on a folding table by a kindly neighbor while walking your dog? It honestly feels like I am living in paradise. To quote Wayne and Garth, “I’m not worthy!” That said, I am bound and determined to make the most of it while I, for whatever reason, get to call SB home. So, I gleefully hand over half my paycheck to purchase Americana chicken eggs and hand picked figs from my local farmers market. The Pacific Northwesterner in me resists, but that little sliver of Golden State goodness is slowly creeping in.
Last week at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, I spotted the first round of deep purple figs, and I pounced hard and fast. Then, I got to work immediately and threw together this overtly fresh and powerfully flavorful Fig and Pistachio Pesto Pizza. It’s got all of the things: chewy and flavorful homemade 72 Hour Pizza Dough, a freshly whizzed pesto with a Santa Barbara twist, pesto made with locally grown Santa Barbara pistachios instead of imported pignolia nuts, and big hunks of fresh mozzarella topped with long shreds of salty pecorino. I found the figs alongside the pistachios at the farmers market. They pack more figgy flavor than their sad grocery store counterparts.
This Fig and Pistachio Pesto Pizza encompasses all that I adore about Santa Barbara in every sweet and savory bite. When baked up on a thick slab of steel (Baking Steel), things go next-level goodness with a slightly charred crust. I drizzle that with local honey that I’ve spiced with chile flakes and it’s almost too hot too handle. Seriously guys, go buy yourself a Baking Steel now, it’s worth it’s weight in steel.
If the in-your-face California flavor combo of this Fig and Pistachio Pesto Pizza doesn’t have you searching Kayak for flights to Santa Barbara, I don’t know what will. Well, maybe the beach and the mountains. Possibly the wine and the perfect produce. But most likely, it’s the weather. The weather will get you here.
If you can’t make it down to visit me in Santa Barbara, then this Fig and Pistachio Pesto Pizza is the next best thing. We’ve always got a room at the inn, the door and my kitchen are always open.
A great big shoutout to my bud Hugo Martinez for capturing all of the awesome action shots you see below! Check him out at HM Imagery.
Overtly fresh and powerfully flavorful this Fig and Pistachio Pesto Pizza has all of the things: nutty pistachio pesto, plump, juicy figs, fresh mozzarella and salty pecorino and a sweet drizzle of spicy chile honey.
- 2 cup fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pistachios - shelled
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 lemon - juiced
- 1/2 cup pecorino cheese - freshly grated
- salt n pepper to taste
- 1 pizza dough round - pre-made or store bought
- 1 medium shallot - thinly sliced and lightly sauteed
- 4-5 fresh figs - sliced
- 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella
- 2 tablespoons pecorino cheese - freshly grated
- fresh basil sprigs - to taste
- spicy chile honey - top to taste
Combine the basil, garlic, and pistachios in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and whizz until fully incorporated and smooth.
Squeeze in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and pulse a few times.
Add the pecorino and pulse a few times until just incorporated.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Remove pizza dough from the fridge and allow to rest at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile, place your Baking Steel or pizza stone on the top rack of your oven and preheat oven to 500° (or as hot as it will go) for an hour.
Once the dough at room temperature, turn your oven up to broil. Cover a pizza peel with a light dusting of semolina flour. Stretch out your pizza dough into a 12" round and place on top of the semolina sprinkled peel.
Spread the dough with a thin layer of the pistachio pesto sauce, leaving about 1" of crust all the way around.
Add the sauteed shallots, sliced figs, mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of pecorino cheese.
To launch your pizza into the oven, open the door & touch the peel down at the back of the Baking Steel. Give your peel a slight jimmy (be gentle). Shuffle the peel out slowly as the pie settles onto your Baking Steel or pizza stone.
Bake for about 90 seconds, then open the oven and rotate the pizza. Close oven and broil for 30 seconds or until you are happy with the coloring up top. Switch oven back to convection bake at 500° and cook for about 1-2 more minutes.
Carefully remove from the oven and brush the crust with olive oil. Top with fresh basil and a drizzle of spicy chile honey.