What do you do when a collection of luscious Henry Mooresque shaped fruits sit seductively winking from the fridge with ways to entice that very rare breed of ‘not fond of figs’?
This year’s first figs are bountiful here in Abruzzo at the moment. High in calcium, not the first things you’d think about for lowering cholesterol, but apparently their leaves have that trick so those with kidney problems should avoid them. I’d been enjoying a recently presented windfall of them for breakfast with yoghurt and roasted almonds but then what seemed another lorry-load arrived and I realised that I had to coax my nil-by-fig partner to make any sort of inroads into them, and even I personally don’t like fig jam… In true Abruzzo style we couldn’t let them go to waste…we’re still getting through last year jars of baby figs preserved in a simple syrup that are beautiful with a medium pecorino cheese, so that route was out…
I did try roasting some figs with fat Abruzzo sausages and a dribble of peperoncini oil to make a sweet rich sauce that glistened over whole-wheat pasta; very nice but during Italy’s hottest summer for 10 years perhaps a little much for current weather. I did though want to find something sweetish to do with them outside the much-hated ‘jam option’. After much searching on Google , I found a little link on an Italian cooking portal Cibochepassione with an article listing some traditional recipes from Chieti that included one for a Fresh Fig, Orange & Fennel Seed tart! Jackpot! A combination of exquisite flavours that would work well in the summer heat and alongside a large glass of chilled pecorino, and that would not become too sweet or sharp. Did it tempt the nil by fig partner … you bet!
Chieti Fig Orange & Fennel Seed Tart Recipe
200 g Flour
1 whole egg & 1 egg yolk
100 g butter
200 g caster sugar
1 Kilo of fresh figs, washed and peeled
2 tsps fennel seeds
Sift flour onto a pastry board and make a well in the centre, add eggs, butter and half the sugar and and knead together. Let rest in the fridge.
Pierce the rind of the oranges with a fork and boil in water for a couple of minutes. Repeat this boiling 3 times, each time changing the water. Dry the oranges and cut into thin slices without removing the skin.
Put the orange slices in a saucepan with the remaining sugar and half a glass of water. Cover and cook over low heat for ten minutes. Drain the slices from the syrup.
Roll out your dough to fit a lined baking tray. Cover the dough with orange slices and slices of your peeled figs. Pour the syrup over the fruits and sprinkle with fennel seeds.
Bake at 180 C for about forty five minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice-cream.