Tuck into the last figs of the season


Tuck into the last figs of the season

Eating straight from a tree remains a great treat for LIENTJIE WESSELS, but for those who no longer like climbing so much, here are some mouthwatering recipes.


I AM in the Karoo at our home in Richmond where we are blessed with no fewer than seven fig trees.

I think they are the old Cape White variety, which is ideal for jam. So I made whole green fig preserve, and I have so much I'm starting to give it away. I have kept enough for winter's cheese plates, tarts, cakes and other dishes.

I'm like the comedian Marco Carbonaro regarding figs: “I will eat anything that has the word ‘fig’ or ‘crusted’ in the menu description." So it is a wonderful stroke of luck that we bought a house with so many fig trees.

I remember the fig tree in my friend Corné's garden in Rietondale. The houses there are old and the fig trees, planted decades earlier, were big enough to climb in search of those ripe, black fruits. It was sublime, and eating fruit from a tree, especially figs, remains a wonderful treat that makes the child in me very happy.

With the last beautiful figs hanging from the trees, I think of their lovely diverse qualities with flavours of berry, melon and honey and even more complex nutty, spice and coconut aromas. It is therefore no wonder that figs can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes. Don't forget the leaves either, because that's where the strongest smell is to be found. You can dry them and make tea, or use them in ice cream, cheese, custard and more.

The first dish someone ordered at my restaurant Libel in Sunnyside was slices of toasted ciabatta with thick layers of gorgonzola and camembert, melted slightly, and slices of seared and caramelised figs, lots of olive oil, black pepper and basil — my mouth is watering now.

Today I'm sharing an easy cheese and fig pie, as well as the most delicious baked chicken dish with figs, honey and apple cider vinegar. Later I also decided on roasted cauliflower with tahini wrapped in bacon with a few fig leaves and figs.

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Cheese and fig pie

Serves 4 people as a main meal with salad, or 6 as a starter.

  • 1 roll of puff pastry, rolled out and flattened on an oiled pan
  • 3 wheels of feta with black pepper
  • 250 g ricotta
  • 100 g mature cheddar
  • 6-8 fresh figs, sliced
  • black pepper & salt (remember that the feta is salty)
  • olive oil
  • ½ tsp thyme


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Crumble the feta and mix well with ricotta, grated cheddar and thyme. Leave some thyme for later.

3. Spread the cheese mixture on the pastry, leaving about 4-5 cm around the edge.

4. Place sliced ​​figs on top and sprinkle with olive oil, thyme and black pepper.

5. Bake until golden brown and crispy for about 20-25 min.


Fig and honey chicken

Serves 4 people.


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 80 ml olive oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 dried chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 10 figs, halved
  • 100 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 159 ml kombucha (or replace with 150 ml water and juice of 1 lemon)
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 70 ml honey
  • black pepper and Himalayan or Kalahari salt
  • Fig leaves if available, but they are not necessary


1. Pour the olive oil into a pan with a deep bottom and fry the chicken breasts until golden brown on all sides. Take out and leave on a plate until later. 

2. Use the same pan with the fat to fry the onions a bit before adding the chillies, garlic and oregano and frying for a minute or two. Add the kombucha, honey and stock and boil for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.

3. Preheat your oven to 200°C.

4. Pack the chicken breasts and figs in an ovenproof bowl and pour in the onion mixture, then place a few fig leaves on the chicken.

5. Bake for 25–30 minutes until golden brown. If too much liquid evaporates, add a little more water.

6. Remove from oven and serve with brown basmati rice that has been cooked with a bay leaf or two and chopped fresh baby spinach sprinkled on top.


Cauliflower with tahini, bacon & figs


  • 1 cauliflower, medium size
  • 10 bacon strips
  • 50 ml tahini
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • salt & pepper
  • 6-8 whole figs
  • 150 ml kombucha (or water with the juice of ½ a lemon)
  • Fig leaves if available, but they are not necessary


1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Spread the tahini, oil, herbs, salt and pepper all around the cauliflower and cover with strips of bacon in a baking tray. Place whole figs with liquid around the cauliflower and bake for 25-35 min until it is nice and soft.

3. Serve with quinoa or rice.

♦ VWB ♦

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