Fig and Fetta Fantasia

Ever since the fresh fig supply stepped up at Casa Morgana, I’ve been imagining all sorts of fig dishes and recalling fig episodes in my semi sleep. I’m harvesting around 20 plump figs per day and many are beginning to rot on trays before my eyes. One of those memories involves making fig jam in Languedoc, France, in 1985. At one point, we had many ‘baguette with jam’ eating Australians staying with us and we were burning through the confiture at a rapid rate. We noticed a field of ripe figs going to waste and approached the farmer to ask him if we could pick them to make jam. Mais oui, he said dismissively, gesturing that the crop was nothing more than pig food. At some point mid jam making, Helen thought it would be nice to add some ginger to the mix, so we sent the 14-year-old girls off to the local supermarché to buy some. They returned empty handed. Sunshine demonstrated how many times she attempted her best pronunciation of the request. Je voudrais du ginger, s’il vous plaît, was met with blank stares, compelling the girls to adopt some very stereotyped French accents, repeating the word ginger over and over again. They were hysterical with laughter by the time they returned.

Figs and fetta, a marriage made in heaven, or Greece.

Another fig food memory was eating Saganaki served with a sweet fig sauce at Hellenic Republic, Brunswick, when it first opened. That sauce is based on dried figs with pepper and balsamic and can be served all year round with fried cheese.

This little entrée draws on both experiences. It is warm, sweet and jammy on top, and cold and salty underneath, with the nuts providing a Baklava style crunch. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and makes a very elegant starter.

Fig and Fetta Fantasia.

Ingredients, for two serves.

  • 150 gr (approx weight) quality Greek fetta cheese, sheep or goat, such as Dodoni (not Bulgarian as it has the wrong texture for this dish)
  • 6 large ripe figs, halved
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 dessertspoon vincotto
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped.

Cut the cold fetta into 4 thin batons.

Heat a small frying pan. Warm the honey and vincotto together until beginning to bubble. Turn down the heat and add the figs to the honey mixture. Cook gently on both sides for a few minutes so that the figs absorb some of the liquid.

Meanwhile, toast the walnut pieces in a small pan and watch that they don’t burn.

Assemble the dish by laying two fetta pieces on each serving plate. Top with hot figs and drizzle with the remaining liquid. Scatter the toasted walnuts on top.

Sweet and salty, cold and hot, smooth, sticky and crunchy.

For Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella, a fig fancier.

Smyrna Fig Tree after the rain.  Now in full production after 6 years. Will be rewarded with deep mulch.

19 thoughts on “Fig and Fetta Fantasia”

  1. Exquisiteness! I adore figs and one of my two (potted) figs produced nicely this year, but I had to fight off a blackbird that found its way under the netting to eat my fruit!

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    1. Strangely our ravenous birds have not yet found the figs. I didn’t net them this year, not expecting such a bounty. The birds have been behaving themselves and I’m not sure why.

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  2. How lovely. Do you not get batty flying foxes down there? Our neighbour had a lovely bunch of bananas decimated overnight by what sounded like flying batty rubber duckies.

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    1. I think you’ll like it Liz, so simple yet impressive, Worth seeking out a small bottle of vincotto for this, to add a slurp to the honey. Hope your season goes well.

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  3. Hey Francesca .. love figs! This post has prompted me to whizz outdoors and check ours. They are slow this year. Wonderful things .. Have you tried them in the oven with honey and then served up with marscapone and mint and more honey? Yummo .. so are you pics btw. Love the last one

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  4. Mmm, I love figs, the best fresh from our tree in Piran, Slovenia, but this recipe sounds yum. Saving it. Just one little thing: what do you understand under vincotto? Amore says it means vin brulé or mulled wine – really? You cook all that wine just to use a teaspoon? 😀

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  5. Vincotto is sold here in bottkes. It isn’t cheap but as we don’t use much, it’s worth it. The bottle lasts forever. Leave this ingredient out if you can’t find a commercial one. F

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