I love figs. I love them, I love them, I love them. Sadly, you don’t find many fresh figs here in Sonoran desert. It’s not that they can’t be grown here, it’s just that they really aren’t grown here. Ever since my last Fall in D.C. seven years ago, I’ve had this lingering, and sadly unsatisfied, craving for fresh figs.
Fast forward to this past weekend. I was at Costco with my mom, already ecstatic because I’d found the most delicious butternut squash made with adorable red and yellow striped pasta, when I wandered into the refrigerated fresh fruit room. As I walked around, looking at the crates stacked up nearly as tall as me, I noticed two random packages in the corner. They didn’t have a display and they didn’t have a label. I couldn’t tell what they were, so I zoomed in for a closer look. Oh, the shear joy at this fantastic surprise! Fresh figs! Just two cartons left, tucked in the back corner, all by their lonesome, among some not-so-ripe mangos. I was so excited, I actually yelled out to my mom like a little kid.So in honor of that euphoric moment, I’ve chosen the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah as my Eat to the Beat music. Quirky? Yep. Hyperbolic? Absolutely. But it took me seven years to find these figs, so I’m going with it.
Lemon Crostata with Fresh Figs and Goat Cheese
adapted from Gale Gand, “Sweet Dreams”
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 lemon, zest freshly grated
8 TBSP (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
4 oz. mild, fresh goat cheese (no rind)
10 ripe fresh figs (black or green), stems snipped off with a scissors, cut in half lengthwise
2 TBSP honey
1. Make the dough: Blend the flour, sugar, and lemon zest at low speed in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and continue blending at low speed until the mixture is coarse and sandy-looking. Add the beaten egg and blend just until the mixture comes together. Form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a rough circle, about 8 inches in diameter. The dough may seem crumbly but you can just push it back together and make patches if necessary.
4. Transfer to the prepared pan. All around the circle, fold in the outer 1/2-inch of the pastry to form a naturally raised, “rustic” edge to the tart. Don’t press the edge down. Using your fingers, break the goat cheese into small pieces, sprinkling it over the bottom of the tart (not the edges).
5. Arrange the fig halves in concentric circles over the goat cheese and drizzle the figs with honey.
10. Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the underside of the tart crust is browned.