I know we are very spoilt here in Provence with fruit trees growing by the roadside and the fruit being pretty much a “libre service” (self-service) for the passer-by. This is certainly true for figs trees, which grow all over the village and most of the precious harvest ends up rotting on the floor. We have a lovely neighbour with a productive purple fig tree, which we’re allowed to raid at regular intervals during early autumn.
Figs are a great ingredient for savoury and sweet dishes and we enjoy them in many different ways. Here are some of my favourites:
Roasted Figs with Cheese and Bacon
This recipe is the perfect storm of sweet and savoury yumminess and a great appetizer:
- 6-8 figs
- Hard cheese (Parmesan, Gruyère or Comté)
- 3 slices of Parma ham or Speck
Chop off the little stem so that each fig half can be sliced in two horizontally (if you slice them longways they fall over easily). Add a slice of cheese and ham on top of each and add pepper and salt. Put in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees and leave to roast for about 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bacon crisped up. Make sure you don’t leave it for so long that the fig collapses and turns to mush. Serve on a pretty dish, it should be firm enough for your guests to pick it up.
Fig, Walnut and Lardon quiche
I love to make seasonal quiches, as there’s always a nice combination that will work. Figs are lovely with nuts, so you can make a very tasty number with some crushed almonds or walnuts, figs and some lardons for extra taste.
- 1 roll of all butter short pastry
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 small tub of crème fraiche
- 3-4 figs
- handful of crushed walnuts (or raw almonds)
- handful of lardons (optional)
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius. Line a large pie mould with the short pastry (best keep the non stick paper that comes with it under the pie). Make a nice and firm border to take your quiche mix later. Blind bake for 10 minutes to make sure you have a crisp result (weigh the pastry down with some baking paper and dried beans). In the meantime add 4 eggs and crème fraiche to a bowl and scramble until you have a nicely uniform cream. Add nuts, lardons and figs and turn over very gently. Season generously with salt and pepper. Fill the pastry shell (in mould) with the mixture and return to the oven for another 20 minutes, until the mixture is firm and the shell golden brown. Serve with a fresh green salad.
Mini fig and ricotta cheesecakes
This is a recipe our lovely intern Bella delighted us with during her stay in Provence and that has made it into my list of all time favourite deserts. To make 4:
- 4 figs
- 1 tub of Ricotta cheese
- 60ml of milk
- 2-3 tablespoons of honey
- Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 180 Celsius. Add the Ricotta, milk, honey and some grated lemon zest to a bowl and stir until you have a smooth mixture. Cut the figs into two lengthways. Take 4 porcelain ramekins and pour an equal amount of mixture into each. Carefully drop a fig half into each of the ramekins, flesh side up. Take a baking tray and half fill with some water to make a bain marie. Place the ramekins in the water and put in the oven to set for 20 minutes. Delicious with a nice shortbread biscuit.