A fresh fig tart, earthy and mildly sweet, is a hard thing to resist. And when fresh figs are paired with honeyed yogurt and almond meal, it’s even harder to resist, especially for four-year-old fingers. So when we made this fresh fig tart, filling an almond flour tart shell with honey-sweetened strained yogurt and slices of ripe Mission figs, the tart barely made it to the table before my son’s fingers crept into the frame and began picking at the tart hoping for just a nibble, just a little bite that would satisfy him as he waited, with as much patience as a person of four years’ life experience can muster, while I finished photographing the tart. You can see the demise of the fresh fig tart in this photostream on Flickr, start to finish (click here to skip to the recipe for fresh fig and yogurt tart in an almond crust).
Fresh fig tarts, are a special treat and so undeniably seasonal. Even if you could track down fresh figs come January, what would be the point? Eating a fresh fig out of season is a terribly anachronistic endeavor like baking a pumpkin pie in April or serving gingerbread in July. It just doesn’t work. There would be no joy. Foods have their seasons with reason as it creates this sense of anticipation and excitement all year long – like waiting for that first black cherry in June or that first bite of sun-ripened heirloom tomato in late July. By keeping foods to their seasons, we can experience that sense of pleasure and anticipation with every mouthful we consume.
The first time I ate a fig, outside of a Fig Newton which just doesn’t count, I’d been volunteering in Morocco with other idealistic college kids all hell-bent on seeing the world and lending a helping hand, though I was the only American and, for a time, the only woman. Our job was to whitewash and revive a community center in Chefchaouen – a beautiful mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Rif mountains. I’m drawn to mountain towns which may be why I ended up where I did in Crested Butte, or it could also be my desperate and unabashed love for my husband that seems to multiply day by day. Chaouen is small and its souq is easy to navigate unlike the monsters in Fes and Marrakech. A tourist could find her way in and out without too much trial. But it’s not the souq that shines in Chaouen; rather, it’s the architecture: all blue and white and stunningly picturesque. I was there during July and August when the summer was in full bloom and the trees that lined the medina and creek dripped with fresh ripe figs. Learning from my friends, I’d pluck a ripe purple fig from the tree and mash it into my mouth, scraping its flesh from the skin all feral-like and without the inhibition that usually tempers taking unhindered joy in the food we eat, and how we eat it. And that’s when I fell in love with fresh, ripe figs.
I love desserts (especially healthy, real food desserts), and this fresh fig tart is no exception. And I don’t believe in deprivation. We Americans have a disrupted relationship with food: either we’re punishing ourselves with denial of that which we love, apologizing for our indulgences or mucking down foods that aren’t even real like soy milk or fast food burgers. Instead, we ought to indulge and celebrate the pleasures in the way that nature intended: a fresh ripe fig, a bowl of full fat yogurt drizzled with orchard blossom honey, a handful of almonds or a juicy grass-fed steak. For heaven’s sake, don’t deny yourself, don’t punish yourself, just eat and eat real. It feels so good. It tastes so good. It nourishes your soul. (Read more about my food philosophy).
So, for me, a fresh fig tart is the perfect example of a real food indulgence: decidedly simple to make, brimming with nutrient-dense real foods and utterly satisfying. I find that nuts go very well with figs, and other fruit too, and in this recipe we’ve married ripe figs and thick, fresh yogurt in a crumbly crust of almond meal. So those of you who, by necessity or preference, steer away from gluten or grain can enjoy this fresh fig tart without any awkward substitutions. Figs are rich in trace minerals and a good source of dietary fiber. If you can find it, try using fresh ewe’s milk or goat’s milk yogurt in this recipe because both will add a depth of flavor to this tart that just can’t be provided by cow’s milk. As an added bonus, many people find both goat’s milk and ewe’s milk easier to digest than cow’s milk. If you can’t track down ewe’s milk or goat’s milk, use what you have as this fresh fig tart is good either way. I recommend using a homemade, raw milk yogurt (learn to make raw milk yogurt).
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- ¼ cup butter or ghee (see sources), chilled
- 1 egg white
- ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt (see sources)
- 2 cups Greek-style strained yogurt (see sources for a starter)
- ½ teaspoon orange flower water
- up to 2 tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey (see sources)
- 6 to 8 ripe Mission figs, cut into ¼-inch slices
- additional honey, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until the combination of almond flour, ghee, egg white and salt resembles corn meal.
- Spoon the dough into your tart shell pan, pressing down with your fingers to form a nice crust.
- Bake the almond flour tart shell in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. for about thirty-five minutes or until the shell turns golden brown.
- Allow the shell to cool completely before filling.
- Do not unmold the shell until it has cooled completely, been filled and is ready to serve.
- Fold up to two tablespoons raw honey and ½ teaspoon orange flower into two cups strained Greek-style yogurt. Stir well so that the honey is fully incorporated into the yogurt.
- Spoon the yogurt into an almond flour tart shell.
- Gently place the sliced figs over the yogurt.
- Drizzle the sliced figs with additional honey, if it suits you.
- When you’re ready to serve, very gently remove the tart from the tart shell mold.