The Sweetness of Figs
Over the last three years I have had to learn a lot. Moving out of home and living in a new country with people you don’t know and a language you don’t speak makes you grow up pretty fast. It also teaches you what’s important.
Those things that you miss and crave that you always took for granted. Yes, sometimes they seem trivial. I missed having a hot water bottle, iPlayer, Crunchy Nut Clusters, pick-and-mix, Topshop and instant coffee. Things I never thought I even took a second glance at in England. Then there are the other things you miss – the people you want to wrap your arms around and never let go ever again. Family, friends, (and seriously I love my dog more than I love most people. When he greeted me after thinking I was dead for three months, I tell you I’ve never cried so hard or been so happy to be back in my home).
I’ve now realised that having people around me is what’s important. Fellowship. Community. Love. And how better to get all these three things at once than to learn to cook some quality food and serve it to them with wine and the biggest smile on your face? I have genuinely become my Grandma 50 years too early. I don’t even eat anymore I just hover, listening to stories, getting more wine, serving up seconds and rummaging up dessert whilst they laugh at the table. I’ve honestly never been happier than in those moments.
This recipe is a table-filler. It’s more of a starter than a main but it’s so easy to make in bulk and serve at a dinner party. It’s also so full of flavour that little portions are better and it’s good for the waistline. And the star in this recipe? One of my favourite fruits on earth: Figs.
Figs. So delicate and sweet and yet taste amazing with all things salty. Bacon (one of my favourite foods – so good it actually deserves a capital letter) is an important ingredient here, but you can just as easily make it with parma-ham, or even without if you’ve got some veggies coming over.
This general recipe is also brilliant a variety of different ways. If you’re like all my friends in London, you’ll want this on a bed of salad. It’s missing nothing and it’s light, airy and full of flavour with minimal carbs. If you’re like my friends back home in the country you’ll probably want to make your own pastry and place the same ingredients on top – voila – mouthwatering fig, goat’s cheese and bacon tart. If you’re like my new friends over in Italy and you entertain almost every day, you can make these into little show-stopping canapés. Adaptability is key, and I’ve got it covered.
Take your pick, invite your friends over and take it all in.
4x fresh figs
Handful of pine nuts
4x rashers streaky bacon or Parma-ham
1 bag of baby spinach
Pastry (if using)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the bacon onto an oiled baking tray. Slice or quarter the figs and lay on top of the bacon. Drizzle with a little oil to stop them drying out and place into the oven until the bacon is cooked.
Whilst this is cooking toast your pine nuts in a heavy duty pan. Tip: they go from golden to burnt in 0.3 seconds. Therefore you need to stop eating bits of the goat’s cheese in impatience and keep your eye on the pan. When done, remove from the heat.
Arrange all ingredients on a plate, make it look as fancy as possible, even though it will be pretty much inhaled by your guests. Crumble the goats cheese, scatter the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and tear up the bacon. Drizzle the entire thing with the tiniest of oil drizzles, or a balsamic glaze. Done.
Roll out your homemade, or shop bought, pastry. Tip: if you’re using shop bought then use fresh. Not frozen. Immeasurably better!
For the tart, roll it out and place it on a baking tray. Score where you would like your crust to be, being careful not to go all the way through the dough. Place all the ingredients on top and bake for around 20 minutes or until your pastry is golden brown.
For the canapés – it’s the same process. Make the pastry into circles and score. Put the goats cheese, then bacon, then fig. Cook. Serve. Eat.
Written and photographed by Alex Wysocki. To read more of Alex delicious recipes check out her blog A Little Bit of Britaly www.alittlebitofbritaly.com