Figs are in abundance at this time of year, a quick scan around some of the great Aussie food blogs and you’ll get the general idea. We’re lucky enough to have access to Paul’s mum’s backyard fig tree which fruits heavily every year so I’ve been coming up with some creative ways to use them. They are a tricky fruit, you’ve got to get to them before the birds do but you’ve also got to make sure they are perfectly ripe as they don’t ripen further once picked. They are such a great looking tree though, I’d love to have one in our yard – maybe one day.
My mum and dad used to have a fig tree along with an apricot, nectarine and peach. I have fond memories of Mum making up huge batches of fig jam on the stove when we’d reach serious glut levels but, you know, I never really liked to eat it. It’s funny now to think back on it, I don’t know that I’d ever actually tried it, I think it was the visible seeds that bothered me rather than any taste aversion. These days I’m a lot less fussy and will happily eat pretty much anything (except meat, of course!), although I do stop short at eating figs fresh off the tree, I don’t think it’s anything rational though so maybe I just should bite the bullet, or the fig for that matter!
This tart is one of the ways I’ve been using up our stash of figs and was inspired by a recipe I saw over at Hunger and Sauce. It’s a little tart that is super simple to put together and combines just the right balance between salty and sweet. Although it sounds fancy, it’s really not – there are four key ingredients: Figs, Feta, Pastry and Thyme. The rest you can play around with to suit yourself, maybe add some fennel or olives or go with Irving’s suggestion and use pomegranate molasses instead. I served mine with a nice green salad, it reheated nicely in the sandwich press at work the next day too.
If you’re like me and have a good supply of fresh figs then I recommend checking out some of the other fabulous recipes I’ve seen floating around at the moment all of which use the humble fig as a centrepiece:
For the meat-eater there is the inspired Fig, Prosciutto & Pear salad from Christina at The Hungry Australian. I’m trying to decide what a good vego alternative to the prosciutto would be, maybe some salty olives or smoky almonds?
What is your favourite way to use figs? Let me know in the comments below.
Fig & Feta Tart
Serves 4 - Vego
1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, lightly beaten
4-5 ripe figs
2 tbspns honey
2 tbspns balsamic vinegar
2 tbspns slivered almonds
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
salt & pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (200 if not using fan-forced).
Grab the pastry and lay it out on a greased oven tray. Gently cut a 1cm border into the pastry, being careful not to cut all the way through. Gently wash with the egg mixture.
Cut an ‘x’ shape into the figs, cut most of the way down but leave them attached at the bottom so that you can splay them out into a sort of star pattern.
In a bowl mix together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Brush the mixture onto the fleshy side of the figs using a pastry brush and lay them out on the pastry.
Crumble the feta over the top of the figs, filling in the gaps on the pastry.
Sprinkle on the almonds and thyme and then season with a little salt and pepper. I used about half a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds on the pepper grinder.
Pop into the oven for about 20 minutes until the pastry has become golden, the feta has melted and the almonds are nicely browned.
Serve with a green salad.