After all these years of living in Florida, I’d never seen, let alone tasted a local fig until very recently. I heard legends of them existing, but never came across one. The other week, at a party, I met the lucky owners of a couple of fig trees in town and got an invitation to come pick some fresh figs. The trees were tiny, not at all like the ones that I was used to from back home by the Black Sea, but still studded with figs. It had been a while since I tasted one of my favorite fruit right off the tree, and they did not disappoint. Although small and pale in colour, the figs were honey-sweet and delicious.
I was inspired to make a fig tart, using my favourite long rectangular tart pan, combining my homemade ricotta, figs and chocolate – how could the combination of all those wonderful ingredients ever disappoint?
You can use any good crust recipe for the tart. I like to utilize the whey left over from ricotta cheese making as the liquid component in the dough – it gives a wonderful texture to a very simple whole spelt dough. Roasted grapes are a fall indulgence and a great accompaniment to this tart.
Paloma ate the majority of the tart (a chocoholic in the making). She just started kindergarten, and we have been getting used to the new routine and rules that come about all too fast when the little ones grow up. Because the content of her lunchbox is always very different from most of the children in the class, the beginning of each new school is quite an adjustment, food wise. I have to work out how to pack all of Paloma’s food in a way that is convenient enough for her to eat, how to store it safely during the day, and last but not least, I have to think about how the kids (and sometimes the teachers!) will react to it. The most constant variable in her lunchbox is a green juice or smoothie, while everything else changes from day to day. The juice, of course, gets some negative attention, but thankfully Paloma is a fiery little Leo who can stand up for herself. The last incident happened very recently, and Paloma’s comeback (according to her own account) was “This is my mom’s juice, and if you don’t like it, don’t look at it!” She didn’t seem at all upset by that conversation.
And speaking of healthy foods for children, a reader, Elle Valentine, recently shared her healthy children’s book with us. It is called The UnPopular Pea (and Carrot) and was written to help kids learn about real food and making healthy dietary choices. It is a helpful tool, along with being very clever and entertaining – Paloma is obsessed. Watch the campaign video here and buy the book here. Thank you Elle!
Fig and Chocolate Ricotta Tart
for the crust
1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour (I used sprouted spelt flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whey – left over from ricotta making
to make the crust
1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add in the whey, mix and knead into a soft dough.
2. Lightly grease a tart pan with coconut oil and press the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan to create a crust of even thickness. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
for the filling
2 cups ricotta cheese (I make mine with raw goat milk)
1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped out, optional
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
about 4 tablespoons (half of a standard bar) grated dark chocolate, or more to taste
15 dried but moist figs – stems removed and halved
9 fresh ripe, sweet figs – stems removed and halved
to make the filling and bake the tart
1. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
2. Combine the ricotta with vanilla seeds and coconut sugar in a medium sized bowl, set aside.
3. Remove the crust from the fridge and sprinkle about 1/2 of the chocolate over the bottom. Spoon 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the chocolate, distribute evenly.
4. Press the dried figs, cut side up, into the ricotta layer, positioning them evenly over the surface of the tart. Follow with the rest of the ricotta, distributing it into an even layer. Press the fresh figs, cut side up into the ricotta, flattening the surface. Sprinkle with coconut sugar.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden and the figs are caramelized. Take out of the oven, sprinkle with the rest of chocolate and place back into the oven for a couple of minutes to let chocolate melt slightly.
6. Let cool, slice and serve with roasted grapes if desired.
1. If using store bought ricotta, consider draining it over a sieve overnight in a fridge.
2. If you don’t have the left over whey, consider this simple recipe for a crust. Substitute spelt flour for all purpose if you wish.
coconut oil or ghee
1. Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C).
2. Make sure that the grapes are dry after you wash them. Toss the grape clusters with oil or ghee to coat lightly.
3. Roast for 8-12 minutes until soft and skins began to split.