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Entrees/ Recipes/ Vegetarian Recipes

Caramelized Onion & Fennel Pizza with Kalamata Olives

Caramelized Onion and Fennel Pizza with Kalamata Olives

Photos by Emily Caruso

Fennel seeds are probably one of my most hated foods. I know they seem pretty innocuous, but ugh. So I spent many years assuming that I didn’t like fennel either and I avoided it at all costs. One of the biggest benefits I found in signing up for a CSA box this year was the way it pushed me out of my comfort zone with cooking. I never would have bought fennel at the farmers market, but when I found it in my CSA box? Well, I couldn’t let it go to waste.

Caramelized Onions & Fennel
If you’re not a fan of that anise-y flavor of fennel, here’s a trick for you: caramelize it with onions. You’ll still have a hint of that flavor, but it’s only enough to make things interesting, not enough to overpower a dish. I’ve used this fennel-and-onion combo in pasta and with barley as a filling for cabbage rolls, but this pizza is my absolute favorite way to enjoy it.

The caramelized onions and fennel are softened to the point of being almost spreadable, so there’s no need for pizza sauce. Briny kalamata olives makes this pizza the perfect combination of salty and sweet. And with a pre-made pizza dough? This dinner is crazy easy too, which is always a plus.

Caramelized Onion and Fennel Pizza with Kalamata Olives

Caramelized Onion & Fennel Pizza with Kalamata Olives

This mixture of caramelized onions and fennel, adapted from Martha Stewart, makes a perfect topping for pizza--no sauce needed!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 -6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound pizza dough homemade or store-bought
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup halved and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese optional


  • Preheat oven to temperature indicated on dough package or recipe.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring often, 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook 5 minutes more or until softened. Uncover and stir in water; continue to stir until the mixture is golden brown. Stir in Italian seasoning and add more salt to taste if needed. Remove from heat.
  • While the onion and fennel are cooking, roll out the pizza dough according to package instructions and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet or pizza stone.
  • Spread the onion and fennel mixture over the crust. Top with the mozzarella cheese and scatter olives over the cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (or time indicated on dough package), or until the cheese is melted and the dough is golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with grated parmesan (if using), and slice into 6 pieces.
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  • Reply
    October 5, 2015 at 11:27 am

    This recipe looks great – will try that on the weekend. Thanks, Miriam

  • Reply
    October 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I’m actually a big fennel fan–so this looks just perfect to me! Love the combination with olives

  • Reply
    October 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Can’t wait to shake up my Friday night pizzas…this looks amazing and I love fennel.

  • Reply
    October 6, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I had a vegan pizza recently that was basically just caramelized onions, and I wasn’t mad about it! I don’t care much for fennel, either, but with the olives as a foil, I’m intrigued.

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