Figs lingered in Bordeaux until early November this year – incredible, right?!? That was just about the time pears started showing up at markets. Finding myself with the season’s last figs and pounds of pears, I decided on a rendition of a favorite tart.
The tart’s timing was perfect with the French #Winophiles exploration of Beaujolais Beyond Nouveau with our host, Jeff Burrows from Food, Wine, click. Knowing how food friendly Beaujolais generally is, Mark and I ended up trying four with this tart: three Beaujolais Cru and one Beaujolais Village. The result? All paired exceptionally well, and many other wine styles would work too.
The Vegetables- Caramelizing is a cooking method I quite like, bringing out the sweetness in vegetables. Here, I started by caramelizing six medium-sized leeks. As they cooked, I threw in red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch thin strips.
To the dough, I added dried Thyme. I usually add a herb to dough, regardless of whether for a sweet or savory item. A herb usually gives your dough a “What is that interesting flavor” response.
The Fruit – While the leeks caramelized, I chopped the pears. After mashing a fig into them, I decided to peel the figs, not wanting their dark skin color to show through. I know, a lot of work to peel figs!
The Cheese- When it comes to fromage, the goat variety makes my heart dance. A Crottin de Chavignol ended up on this tart, with rich, deep flavors that mix well with other ingredients. Valencay, also made from goat milk, works nicely as well. There are many artisan goat cheeses being made now throughout the US that would work. Not a cheese lover? Skip it completely!
This tart came about because I love experimenting with foods and their many flavors. Since posting my French #Winophiles article that included said tart earlier this month, several inquiries about and for the recipe came in, so voilà, here it is!
I note a thin slice of this vegetarian tart is fantastic as an ppetizer with a glass of Champagne, Franciacorta, Cava, or other bubbles this holiday season!
- 6 heaping cups leeks (about 3 large leeks)* washed and cleaned, cut into ½-inch thin strips
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch thin strips.
- Olive Oil
- Large pinch of dried thyme or Herbs de Provence
- Sea Salt
- 4 medium ripe pairs
- juice from ½ lemon
- 16-18 ripe figs
- The Dough:
- 187.5 grams (1½ cups) unbleached white flour
- pinch of salt
- 2 pinches dried thyme
- 116 grams (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced into cubes
- 4 tablespoons ice water
- THE DOUGH:
- Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl.
- Add the butter and using your fingers, quickly break it up, incorporating it into the flour until you have very small pieces (like course sand).
- Dump in almost all the ice water (3 tablespoons) and mix/gather with your hands just until the dough barely comes together. If it seems too dry you may need to add some of the remaining ice water.
- Dump the crumbly mass onto your work surface, gather it into a ball, and then flatten the ball to form a disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap the disk in plastic, and chill for 10 minutes.
- TO FORM:
- Cut a piece or parchment paper into a round big enough to fit in the bottom of your tart pan.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle (roughly).
- Place dough into the tart pan, pushing the sides down gently into the pan. Even out the edges, similar to how you would in a regular pie tin.
- Make a few pricks on the bottom with a fork. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Make the Filling:
- Caramelize the leeks and pepper strips:
- Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium; add leeks and a nice pinch of sea salt; cover and cook for 5 minutes; stir in the red bell pepper, cover and cook another 5 minutes.
- Remove cover and stir. At this point you should turn the heat down a little to slowly cook/caramelize the leeks and peppers. I find keeping the cover on and stirring every 5 or so minutes works nicely to soften and caramelize without burning the leeks. This can take from 15 to 20+ minutes, depending on the temperature. You want the leeks and bell pepper to be soft and slightly golden brown.
- Taste and add more sea salt and herbs as desired.
- Remove the mixture to a plate and cool.
- Peel the pears, quarter from tip to tail then remove the core. Slice each quarter into two pieces (from tip to tail), then cut the strips into about ½-inch pieces. Place in a bowl with the lemon juice.
- Wash 12 figs, cut the stem part off, then peel each fig; mash and add to the pears; Stir to combine well.
- Fill the Tart and Bake:
- Preheat oven to 220C (375F).
- Put the leek-red pepper mixture into the tart shell and gently spread to evenly cover the bottom.
- Spread the pear-fig mixture on top, again evenly to cover.
- Bake until browned on top and the crust is golden brown, checking at 30 minutes. You may have to bake an additional 10 or so minutes.
- Wash the remaining figs; cut the stem off then cut into 6 wedges.
- Arrange the fig wedges on top however you like.
- Top each piece with a slice of goat cheese (chèvre).
- Cool a few minutes before cutting.
I prefer the savory component (leeks or onions and red bell peppers) to be about ½-inch thick when put into the tart shell, no less. Same goes for the fruit component.