I can’t complain about the enormous selection of fruits and vegetables that grow in the Midwest and appear at farmers market stalls, but there are certain things that just refuse to grow in this part of the world. While tropical and citrus fruits are continually stocked on grocery shelves with no acknowledgement of geography or season, fresh figs are another story. With their delicate flesh, figs don’t do well travelling great distances, but their unique taste and texture are enough to make me want pack-up and venture to California or even farther to Turkey to find a new home complete with my own fig tree.
When I was at the grocery last week, I spotted a display of fresh figs. I grabbed a tiny basket of the purple skinned fruit not knowing in that moment if I would do anything more than just eat them quartered with no embellishment. Then I remembered that I had round of soft goat cheese in the fridge, and I decided that a fresh fig and goat cheese flatbread would make the best use my grocery store find. Not wanting to overwhelm the subtle figs, but looking for another flavor element, I grilled the dough. The brightness of the melted goat cheese balanced with the crisp and chewy grill-marked crust while allowing the fresh sliced figs to standout.
Fresh And Fig Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes two 12-inch flatbreads
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 packet dry active yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for oiling bowl
3 cups bread flour plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, rind removed, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
12 fresh figs, trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 handful baby arugula
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the dough, combine the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until it forms a shaggy dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. (Alternatively, the dough can be mixed in the bowl of a stand mixer using a dough hook.)
Gather the dough into a ball, transfer to an oiled bowl and cover. Place the bowl in a warm spot to allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1-1/2 – 2 hours.
Once the dough has risen, give it a quick knead and divide it into 2 equal portions. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into two 12” diameter circles. They do not need to be perfectly round.
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Place the rolled dough directly on the grates and grill for 3-4 minutes with the lid closed until the flatbreads have grill marks and have puffed up. Turn over the flatbreads and grill for an additional 2 minutes.
Remove the flatbreads from the grill and flip them over so the first side that was grilled is facing down. Brush the crusts all over with olive oil. Top each flatbread evenly with goat cheese, figs and walnuts.
Return the flatbreads to the grill and cook until the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes. You may need to lower the heat a bit to make sure the crusts do not burn.
Sprinkle both flatbreads with arugula and sea salt and serve immediately.