What do you do when a collection of luscious Henry Mooresque-shaped fruits sit seductively winking from the counter?
This year’s first figs are bountiful here in Abruzzo at the moment. 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 really like fig jam…
In true Abruzzo style we couldn’t let them go to waste…we’re still getting through last year’s 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!
2023 Tart/Cookie Update!
Do try these out using the upside-down technique that seems to be taking cooking sites by storm, it really works with this recipe! Instead of making 1 ptart, cut out large circles. On baking parchment on your baking tray, add a couple of teaspoons of the syrup onto the paper (don’t worry if it runs a little the other cookies will absorb it), add a sprinkle of fenugreek seeds, lay the thinly sliced orange on top, then on top of the orange tower the slice of fig. Finally, add your cut-out pie crust over the top, squeeze down around your precious contents and bake till golden. Leave to cool, peel off the paper and dada a little September sun cookie! I used brown sugar for this version.
Chieti Fig Orange & Fennel Seed Tart Recipe
200 g Flour
1 whole egg & 1 egg yolk
100 g butter
200 g caster sugar
1 k 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 them 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.