The best way, in my opinion, to eat fichi, meaning figs in Italian, is fresh off the tree. That was how I experienced my first taste of this short-lived seasonal fruit.
My grandmother had many fruit trees in her backyard, the messiest, being the fig. When the fruit is ripe, (which seems to happen all at once, giving way to a sense of urgency to consume as many as you possibly can) they are bursting with flavor, sweet and juicy. The trick is to eat them before they plummet to the ground, melt into a gooey, sticky mess and are tracked into the house.
Although the season is short, figs actually have two seasons with most varieties of fig trees bearing fruit twice a year. They first make an appearance in early summer and then again in late summer to early fall. Fall figs are usually smaller and sweeter. Look for unblemished, soft fruit, plan to eat them within a day or two of purchasing and enjoy them in baked dishes or fresh salads.
If you’re at a farmer’s market or lucky enough to have one of these ancient trees in your backyard, look closely at the blossom end of the fig and if you see a tiny drop of nectar, which Italians lovingly call, “the tear in the eye”, you have discovered a fully ripe fig … Perfetto!
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4-5 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (Delicate)
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- 4-6 fresh figs
- 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese
In a saute pan, cook the onions in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and continue to cook on medium heat until onions caramelize, 30-40 minutes.
While the onions are cooling, prepare pastry, see Crostata di Pesca or use a refrigerated pie crust dough.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet (if you’re using a refrigerated pie dough, place, directly on parchment-lined baking sheet).
Fill the unbaked pastry with the filling. Fold the dough up and over the onions.
Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the egg wash, bake in a 400* oven for 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Cut the figs into quarters, arrange on top of onions, crumble Gorgonzola over the crostata.
This is best at room temperature, although no one would blame you if you waited only long enough for the crostata to cool slightly.