We invited my parents and friends over for a barbecue dinner today. My daughter (rightly) complained that I spent a month’s grocery money on food for just one day, but in my defense – when else do I get to cook for lots of people and try out new things? Not that I don’t try out new dishes all the time but cooking for two is something different.
Unfortunately the weather turned and instead of warmth and lots of sun we got woken up by rain this morning, and it persisted until the early afternoon. It dried up somewhat then, and the sun came out, but barbecuing outside just wasn’t going to work. Luckily we also have an electric grill that can be used inside; it’s smaller and doesn’t add that smoky taste but upon an occasion like this it does the job just as well.
Our family is a big fan of vegetables so to accompany any meat there had to be at least one salad. I made a Gazpacho salad of celery, tomato, peppers and cucumber, and a dish of grilled vegetables marinated in cilantro and lime dressing. Aioli diced potatoes for my dad (for whom a meal isn’t complete if there’s no potato in it), marinated mozzarella bites for my daughter, and pilaw-stuffed tomatoes completed the main course. (Recipes will be posted later).
But as a starter I made a tart of caramelised onions and green figs. The caramelised onion tart is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty, and I first had the idea to add figs while shopping yesterday: looking for figs for a different recipe I couldn’t find any fresh ones and chanced upon a tin of green figs in syrup. This morning I realised the goat cheese I’d bought had a very strong aroma and was likely to overpower everything else, so I opened the can of figs to try one with a piece of the cheese. It went very well with each other, so that’s when the idea to add it to the tart was born.
It received rave reviews by my family, so it’s definitely one to share, even if the idea of so much garlic can be daunting to some.
I would have liked to serve it with a dollop of slightly salted whipped cream with half of a fresh fig, but we ended up eating it with everything else, so that idea will have to wait until the next time. Also – I don’t know how common canned green figs are, so if you can’t find them anywhere, it would probably work just as well to use fresh ones. Otherwise, leave them out and make the garlic tart by itself, just pick a mild goat cheese then
Caramelised garlic and fig tart
Based on a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
- 375g puff pastry, readymade
- 3 medium-sized bulbs of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp finely chopped thyme, plus some sprigs for decoration
- 1 can (415 g net weight) sweet green figs, drained and cut into quarters
- 150 g soft goat cream cheese
- 150 g mature hardened goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- 200 ml heavy cream (or half cream, half crème fraîche)
- Black pepper
Prepare a 26cm tart dish. Roll out the puff pastry into a round shape big enough to cover the bottom and sides of the dish, then lay out the dish with the dough, avoiding trapped air bubbles. Cover the pastry with baking paper, then fill with dry beans for blind baking. Let it rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat the oven at 180°C. Bake the prepared pastry for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and baking paper and bake for another 10 minutes until the pastry is golden. Set aside, don’t turn off the oven.
While the pastry is baking, make the filling: in a pot, cover the garlic cloves with water and bring to a boil. Blanch the garlic for 3 minutes, then drain the water. Dry the pot, put the garlic back into it and add the olive oil. Roast the garlic in the pot at maximum heat until beginning to brown, then add the vinegar and 250 ml water. Bring back to boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, the figs, rosemary, thyme and some salt. At medium heat let it simmer for another 10 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is coated in caramel. Set aside.
Assemble the tart: cut the two cheeses into small bits and spread them over the bottom of the puff pastry. Add the caramelised garlic and figs, spreading them evenly over the cheese. If any liquid is left, mix it with the eggs, the cream, a 1/2 tsp of salt and some pepper. Pour this over the tart filling so the bottom is covered completely and bits of garlic and figs are still visible.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C and put the tart in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the surface has turned a golden colour. Remove from oven, let it cool, then decorate with thyme sprigs and fresh fig halves before serving .