Fichi secchi al forno
There is nothing like oven dried figs made with fragrant bay leaves, fennel, orange and lemon zest.
In our modest Italian garden we have at least six fig trees carrying loads of fruit several times a year, and although it may sound conceited you do eventually tire of fig marmalade, fig chutney, fig sauce, poached figs, caramelized figs and fresh figs with gorgonzola, mascarpone and prosciutto. Luckily, own neighbour is a skilled puglian housewife, so instead of letting ripe figs litter the ground (- and attract swarms of flies and ants), she picks them from the trees and leaves them on a mat covered in cloth to soak up the sun for a couple of days, before drying them in the oven. In this way she supplies her own family including the households of six grown up children, numerous cousins and my family with a store of figs that lasts throughout the year.
The dried figs can be eaten as candy or soaked in boiling water and used for cakes, bread, sauce and fruity side-dishes.
1 kg fresh figs
6 bay leaves
Peel of ½ lemon
Peel of ½ orange
2 tbsp wild fennel seeds
Wash the figs and leave them to drip off on a clean kitchen towel.
Turn on the oven at 80 C (180 F).
Spread the figs out on a sheet of baking paper along with slices of lemon and orange peel and let everything dry in the for about half an hour. When the figs have shrunken and attained a nice grey-brown or blackish colour depending on the type of figs used, they are finished. It normally takes about 30 minutes. Don’t leave them too long, or they will bake and become stone hard.
When cooled, place the dried figs is a glass jar with the bay leaves, fennel seeds and dried lemon and orange peel.
Party figs can be prepared by slicing the oven dried figs open and stuffing them with a blanched almond.
More on produce from our Italian garden than oven dried figs