Figs

The fascination with figs may have started with Adam and Eve but our intrigue certainly didn’t end there.

They are possibly the closest thing to natural perfection in the food world. If the flavour alone doesn’t have you hooked, the deliciously textured inside will certainly keep you coming back for more. Figs have held a God-like status in history and are thought to have originated in Egypt before making their way to Greece where they would not only be a prized food but also make their way into the law books. It was illegal to export figs of exceptional quality to ensure abundance and that only the best of the best was available for local consumption. There are now more than 700 varieties and some of the best are grown right here in South Australia. If you love cooking with figs, then the Brown Turkey variety is the one for you, as its slightly thicker skin holds up well to heat, while maintaining its perfectly jam-like centre. If, like me, you prefer figs straight o ff the tree, then it has to be Spanish Desert. This are best eaten as is or with as little intervention as possible. Although this sensual fruit has captured our imaginations for some time, it’s not the only part of the fig tree that should be making its way into our kitchens. The leaves are perfect for infusing sweet, sappy and smoky notes into desserts. Bruise three fig leaves before infusing the milkbase of your favourite panna cotta recipe, strain from the milk and set as per usual. Or take inspiration from Adam and Eve and wrap the most venerable parts of a whole fish with damp fig leaves, grill on the BBQ and serve with a wedge of lemon for perfectly cooked fish every time.

Where to find the best figs

Glen Ewin Estate: home of Willabrand Australia. You can pick your own here during the fig season from more than 12,000 fig trees. 10am to 4pm, 7 days a week Lower Hermitage Road, Houghton Tony & Mark’s Glenunga: 555 Portrush Road, Glenunga Tony & Mark’s Newton: 1 Jan Street, Newton

Recipe: Warm Ricotta and Fig tart

Ingredients: – 1 sheet of all butter puff pastry – 1 egg – 500g fresh ricotta – 200g fresh goat’s cheese – 130g walnuts – toasted and roughly chopped – Honey or honeycomb (if you can get your hands on some) – 6 figs – 4 sprigs of fresh marjoram Method: [1] Preheat oven to 200 degrees. [2] Place the sheet of puff pastry on an oven tray lined with baking paper. [3] Lightly score the edges with a 2cm border. [4] Use a fork to dock the inside square of the puff pastry. [5] Beat the egg with a dash of water and lightly brush over the puff pastry. [6] Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. [7] Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. [8] Remove and leave to cool completely before filling. [9] Mix the ricotta, goat’s cheese and walnuts until combined. [10] Season with salt and honey to taste (the amount of honey will depend on how sweet you want the mixture). [11] Gently spoon the mixture in the base of the puff pastry shell. [12] Quarter the figs and scatter over the top of the cheese mixture along with the sprigs of marjoram. [13] Warm for five minutes in the oven before serving with extra honey for drizzling.

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