You can use any kind of figs. I love Kadota because of their color, flavor, and the fact that they’re a bit less sweet. The figs can be firm or soft or a combination of both. Let go. It’s okay for this tart to be a bit of a mess. You can skip the cheese. Or add pine nuts. Maybe drape pancetta or prosciutto over the figs. I strongly advise that you serve this tart with a crisp green salad drenched in a powerful vinaigrette.
You can make classic puff pastry (and, omfg, you are my hero if you do!). Or you can do Ashley Rodriguez’s Shortcut to Puff Pastry (and you’re still my hero). Or you can do what I did and head to the freezer section of your local grocery story and buy puff pastry. Pepperidge Farms is great. Dufour is my favorite (it’s a bit pricey but hella worth the splurge).
There’s no need to spend a lot of money on fancy balsamic, but you should avoid using thin vinegar as it will make the pastry soggy. I make mine thick by reducing down a bottle of inexpensive balsamic (just boil until half is gone). Another option for this recipe is to use Alice Medrich’s Honey Balsamic Sauce (in other words, combine your vinegar and honey into one easy drizzle). —Phyllis Grant
sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cool
thick balsamic vinegar
firm blue cheese (I used Wisconsin, but go more intense if you like)
With a mortar and pestle, bash a few sprigs of rosemary with olive oil. Set aside.
Using a bit of flour, roll out your dough until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Since it’s a free form tart, any shape is fine. Make a pretty little border by folding over a 1/2-inch on each side (the tart gets a little drippy so it’s nice to have a dam).
Stem, halve, and arrange the figs cut-side up on the dough in any pattern (just make sure they’re tightly nestled). Using a pastry brush, generously paint the cut-side of each fig half with the rosemary oil. Sprinkle each fig with salt. Drizzle balsamic and the honey all over, making sure each fig gets a little splash. Crumble cheese all over. Drape the bashed and oily rosemary stems anywhere you like on the tart.
Bake until crispy, brown, and bubbling (about 25 minutes). If the figs don’t get enough color, cover the edges of dough with tin foil and place tart under the broiler until desired color is reached. Cool for a few minutes. Eat.
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.