Figs stayed around 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, a tart came to mind. Red bell peppers and leeks were hanging around, those were incorporated into the tart too.
The tart’s timing was perfect- earlier this month while the French #Winophiles explored Beaujolais Beyond Nouveau with our host, Jeff Burrows from Food, Wine, click. Knowing how food friendly Beaujolais generally is, Mark and I tried four with this tart: three Beaujolais Cru and one Beaujolais Village– all paired nicely. Many other wine styles would work too.
The Vegetables- Caramelizing is a cooking method I quite like, bringing out the vegetable’s sweetness. I started by caramelizing six medium sized leeks. As they cooked, I threw in the red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch thin strips.
To the dough, I added dried Thyme. I usually add an herb to dough regardless of whether for a sweet or savory item. An herb gives your dough a “What is that interesting flavor” response.
The Fruit- While the leeks were caramelizing, I chopped up the pears. After mashing a fig into them, I decided to peel the figs, not wanting their dark skin color to show through. Yeah 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 having a rich, deep flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients. The second time I used Valencay, a different goat cheese. There are many artisan goat cheeses being made now throughout the US. Not a cheese lover? Skip it!
I love experimenting with foods and their many flavors, that’s how this tart came about. Since posting my French #Winophiles article earlier this month, I’ve had several inquiries so here’s the recipe.
P.S. A fantastic appetizer with a glass of Champagne, Prosecco, 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.