Recipes from food stylist Nicolas Ghirlando: Fish fingers to Friday nights.

Fig and goat’s cheese tart with onions, tomatoes and honey

photo (1)When I was at my parents’ last weekend for my dad’s birthday, I wanted to contribute something to the lunch, and brought in the figs I happened to have left over from the day before. I started first thing in the morning by caramelising some onions over a very low heat, until they turned a sweet golden brown. Nearer to lunchtime, a quick assembly of the onion, figs, goat’s cheese and tomato created a simple and pretty puff pastry tart. I didn’t, but you could add some crisped parma ham at the end to give it a little extra texture and saltiness.

Serves: 6-8 as a starter
Prep time: 25 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour for the onions, plus 25 mins for the rest

Ingredients

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
4 white onions, thinly sliced, though red would work well too
1 tsp sugar
1 thyme sprig
8 figs, quartered
150g crumbly goat’s cheese
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp honey
Olive oil
Lemon zest
2 tsp balsamic vinegar, thickened slightly in a hot pan and left to cool
A handful of lamb’s lettuce to garnish
Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add some olive oil, the onions, thyme and a little salt and sugar. Stir occasionally and cook until they start to become translucent. Turn the heat down and cover with a lid. Check occasionally, stirring to make sure they don’t stick or burn. Cook for 45-50 minutes or until they are golden brown, sweet and rich.
  2. Nearer to lunchtime, heat the oven to 180°C and roll the pastry onto a baking sheet. Prick the middle with a fork so it doesn’t rise too much, and score a 1cm border all the way around. Cook for 15-20 minutes then remove from the oven and spread the onions over it. Arrange the figs, goat’s cheese and tomatoes on top, sprinkle with the seeds, and drizzle with the oil, honey, balsamic and lemon zest.
  3. Season well and when cooled a little, top with the lamb’s lettuce.

How to food style it

  1. The pastry sheet really is a blank canvas, and with this tart the ingredients do all the work for you. Purple figs against pure whites, golden olive oil and green leaves are going to work, almost however you throw them down. Do try to build in balanced layers, making sure that every section of the tart has a good mix of the ingredients.
  2. Finally, drizzle with oil and seeds to unify the surface and scatter leaves gently across, taking care to not hide the rest of the ingredients.

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