A few weeks ago, we found ourselves with an overwhelming bounty of figs. Trust me, no one was complaining. As a kid, I was never a huge fan of the fig, which is half-reasonable, considering that figs are a little beyond what kids are into. Though what do I know is that kids these days are a lot more advanced than I was, but that's a topic for another day. So, if you see a kid eating a fig somewhere between pre-advanced biology club and classical flute lessons, let me know.
Anyhow, I regularly shunned figs as a kid. Didn't like their texture, didn't care for their overly sweet taste. A taste, that now, tastes like real sweetness to me, and not just an overload of sugary grit. Now, I'm living up to my half-Greek heritage: I loooove figs. Can't get enough. Doesn't matter the color, the type, the level of ripeness, I am there.
But the only problem with these delicate little fruits is that once they're ripe, the window of time in which to use them closes fast. One day they're perfectly in their prime, and the next they're molded and slumped over.
As for fennel, that's not exactly the most kid-friendly root vegetable either. With its funny looks and often sharp taste, it often gets abandoned in the grocery store produce aisle with shrugs and shaking heads: "I have no idea what to do with that." Well! Trust me when I say that figs and fennel are a match made in vegetation nirvana.
So in order to act fast and make sure to use up all these fantastic figs we were in possession of, I decided to incorporate them into our next dinner time with this fig and fennel flatbread inspired by Anya Kassoff's The Vibrant Table. Our experience with her gluten-free potato pizza was so good, I figured this one would be just as great.
For this recipe, you will need:
1 large fennel bulb, sliced thin (green fronds set aside)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
14 ripe figs, sliced (we used black mission, but any variety would be great)
1 ounce feta or goat cheese, optional
For two personal-size crusts (The above ingredients are enough to top one crust; double to use on both. I used kale pesto and heirloom tomatoes on the other), you will need:
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cups whole wheat flour (or your flour of choice), plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Begin by making your crust. Transfer your water, salt, and sugar to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake together until your salt and sugar have fully dissolved. And your vinegar and shake to combine. Measure out one cup of this mixture and set aside.
Sift 1 1/2 cups of your flour into a large bowl. Add the baking soda and 4 tablespoons of your olive oil and stir together. Add your 1 cup of liquid and stir together. If the dough seems liquid-y at this point, don't worry, it will come together soon! Continue adding the rest of your flour in half-cup increments until your dough is uniform but not stiff. When you achieve your desired texture, transfer to a well-floured countertop and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into two equal portions; shape into flattened disks and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.
While you wait for your dough, preheat your oven to 415 degrees. Brush your sliced fennel with olive oil and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and transfer to the oven to roast for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Once the dough is ready to be rolled and the fennel is done roasting, reduce the oven's heat to 395 degrees. Dust a rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll out your disks until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each crust with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for ten minutes to get them moving along.
After ten minutes, top with your fennel, figs and cheese (if you're going to use that) and pop back into the oven for another twelve minutes. Be sure to cover the flatbread all the way to the edges, as this dough is prone to burning, much like the gluten-free potato pizza.
After the dough has crisped up around the edges, remove from the oven and top with your fennel fronds before serving. So good!