Fig and blue cheese tarts

I finally plucked up the courage to ask the ladies at the Small Cow Farm if I could try their Small Cow Blue cheese at the Capital Region Farmers Market, Canberra on Saturday. I’M GLAD I DID! It was BEAUTIFUL! I picked myself a modest wedge. I wanted to save it to have during the week, but I’m having trouble keeping away from it! This is the recipe I wanted to use it for.

Fresh, juicy seasonal figs

Fresh, juicy seasonal figs

I love figs. They are so beautiful right now. It’s possible figs are my favourite thing about this time of year. I’ve been buying a few each week at the farmers market, but you know you’ve hit the jackpot when you find some that are so juicy they almost fall apart in your mouth with their rich sweetness.

I wanted to bring these two beautiful ingredients together in a tart I could enjoy during Meat Free Week. I decided to pull it all together with a walnut pastry shell. Blue cheese, figs and walnuts are a tried and true flavour combination that is always incredible. The walnut pastry took a bit of trial and error, but I’m very happy with the product I ended up with. I used spelt flour to keep the nutty flavour through the pastry. If I had buckwheat flour, I’d have liked to try the recipe with that. But you can use wheat flour if you like. Make the pastry a day ahead.

The finishing touch is provided by a little fig vino cotto to bring the additional flavour of red wine to this classic flavour combination. But if you don’t have any of this lying around (as I did), you could give it a miss. I ate my tarts as s, but you could serve it with a simple salad of rocket or baby spinach if you’d like.

Makes 4

Walnut pastry

50 grams walnuts
220 grams spelt flour
120 grams butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
1 egg

Tart filling

2 teaspoons fig vino cotto
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cream
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
100 grams blue cheese, crumbled
2 fresh figs

To make the pastry, blitz the walnuts in a blender or food processor until they form a fine crumb. Add the flour and combine. Add the cubed butter and blitz till just combined, then add the egg and mix till the mixture comes together. Press the dough into a circle, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Walnut pastry cases

Walnut pastry cases

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Divide the pastry into four even sized pieces. One piece at a time, roll the dough to about 4 millimetres thick. Transfer the piece to a 10 cm loose bottomed fluted flan tin. Press the pastry down over the edges of the tin to cut it off neatly. Then press the pastry into the tin, starting in the middle of the tin and working out, so the pastry snuggly lines the tin, and you have a little pastry sticking above the top of the tin. Repeat for the remaining tarts.

Line each pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Blind bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

When the top of the pastry shell begins to golden, remove the baking weights and paper. Drizzle the vino cotto across the bottom of each of the pastry cases and spread it around a little with the back of a teaspoon. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes to cook through, and dry the vino cotto. Remove the pastry shells from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 200oC.

To make the filling, beat together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Add about three quarters of the crumbled cheese, mixing and mashing to combine (it doesn’t need to be smooth). Slice the figs in half, and remove a slice of fruit from the ‘bottom’, so they sit flat and not too far above the height of the pastry case,  with the middle of the fig facing up.

Pour the filling into the pastry cases, being sure you get an even distribution of blue cheese between the tarts. Gently place half a fig in the middle of each tart.

Return the tarts to the oven for about 20 minutes, till the filling is cooked through. Serve right away while the filling is puffed and golden, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Fig and blue cheese tart

Fig and blue cheese tart

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