Roasting the fennel brings out a distinct anise flavor and unique nuttiness. The caramelized onions provide a richness and beautifully creamy texture that is mirrored by the fresh ricotta. Orange segments get juicy from the quick cook in the oven. Add to that bright, punchy mint, and salty olives, and you have yourself a winning topping combination.
Let's Get Started
To begin, prep your fennel for roasting in the oven. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise, core it, then slice it roughly a quarter inch thick (you can use a mandoline if you have one handy). Aaron recommends soaking the fennel slices in lightly salted water for 20 minutes to season it and prevent discoloration. Remove the fennel from the water, rinse and pat dry.
Toss the sliced fennel with olive oil, then place it on a baking sheet and roast it at 450 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, or until it gets tender, golden, "buttery and melty" (as Aaron astutely puts it).
While your fennel's roasting away, it's time to caramelize those onions. Aaron advises that you cut the onions on the thick side (about the same as thickness fennel), so that they keep a bit of body and don't melt away when caramelized.
Now let's get to that beautiful caramelization! Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Put a splash of olive oil in the pan, then throw in the sliced onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly golden. Reduce the heat a bit, season aggressively, and continue to cook the onions until they are lightly caramelized (this should take about 25 minutes).
Now that you have your fennel roasted and your onions caramelized, it's time to roll out your dough. Amorina's dough begets a delicate, crisp, Roman-style crust when cooked in their coal fired oven at around 650 degrees.
Once you have stretched your dough into a round, apply a thin spread of fresh ricotta with the back of a spoon. Hit all those edges with a smear of ricotta.
Spread your gorgeous caramelized onions over the dough's surface.
Get Your Toppings On
Next, evenly distribute the roasted fennel over the surface of the dough (don't be shy), along with the halved Kalamata olives and orange segments. Drizzle the pie with a bit of olive oil, and get that baby in the oven.
We suggest you cook your pie at the highest temperature your oven can reach. If you're using a pizza stone, you'll want it to be in the oven during the pre-heat. Cook the pizza until the crust is crisp and bubbly.
Once your pie comes out of the oven, tear the fresh mint leaves and scatter them over the pizza.
A Damn Fine Pizza
Albano and Aaron are ecstatic about the pie, and we think you will be too. Buon appetito!