Fennel, Apple, Caramelized Onion, and Provolone Pizza

Sounds odd, I know. But I swear that it’s one of the most delicious flavor combinations that I’ve tried. The fennel and caramelized onion are the perfect balance of sweet and savory, the apple adds a bit of tartness, and the creamy provolone has enough flavor to stand up to everyone else. Try it, let me know what you think, and I’ll consider renaming it.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (store bought or homemade, I’ve been enjoying this recipe lately. It’s almost foolproof and makes enough for two pizzas)
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded provolone cheese (if you can’t find a block of provolone to shred, it’s fine to substitute with deli slices)
  • 1 tbsp freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (save the fronds for topping)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven with a pizza stone to the highest setting (typically 500 degrees) for at least an hour. I am just as impatient as they come, but this is how you get a delicious thin and crispy crust. Alternatively, preheat your pizza oven to 700 degrees.

Bring the pizza dough out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes before you’re ready to stretch it out. Let it rest on a floured countertop (or cutting board) under a dish towel to keep it from drying out.

In the meantime… we make the caramelized onion and fennel mixture. In a large saucepan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a pinch of salt. Toss everything to coat and after 1-2 mins, reduce to medium low heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture is reduced, caramelized, and golden brown. Remove from heat.

Now for the pizza… stretch out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 10-12 inch round, allowing the dough to rest for a few minutes if it springs back. *Optional: I prefer to place the dough on parchment paper and then trim the excess paper off around the dough – I think it’s way easier to handle than cornmeal on the pizza peel.

Top pizza with a drizzle of olive oil around the center of the pizza. Scatter mozzarella and provolone cheese evenly around the center, leaving a 1-inch border for the crust. Add spoonfuls of the caramelized onion/fennel mixture. Top with apple slices. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Now it’s pizza time! Using a pizza peel or cookie sheet, transfer the pizza to the oven. For a standard oven at 500 degrees, the pizza will likely take 12-13 minutes. For a pizza oven at 700 degrees, it’ll take 5-6 minutes. Rotate 180 degrees halfway through so that the crust browns evenly.

Remove from oven and set the pizza on a cooling rack set on the counter. This is one of my biggest homemade pizza tips – it ensures that the crust stays crispy while it cools, and it doesn’t get soggy. Let it cool for a few minutes (it’ll stay nice and hot, don’t worry). Top with chopped fennel fronds and parmesan. Slice it up and enjoy.

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