Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Roasted Fig Puff Pastry Shells

During my Wine Gala weekend of gluttony, I had a few hours to kill between duties with a few of my fellow coworkers and volunteers. Lucky for me, I consider this particular group of working stiffs to be some of my most favorite people in the world; spending time with them was going to be a pleasure. On our itinerary: dinner, of course!

We wound up at one of our local favorites, Bistro Don Giovanni, known for good food, great ambiance, and a chance to rub elbows with Napa Valley's wine industry insiders (true to form, Randall spotted no fewer than three people he knew immediately upon our arrival). Settling in for what was anticipated to be a great dining experience, we all came away just a little disappointed (poor service being the main culprit). Although the food was good (my main entree of trenne pasta with braised lamb shoulder, artichokes, olives, goat cheese and a touch of fresh mint was a surprisingly stunning flavor combination) - it wasn't great.

Perhaps the biggest letdown was our appetizer pizza. If Bistro Don Giovanni were famous for only one thing, it would be its wood-fired pizzas. We ordered the seasonal special: a pizza topped with carmelized onions, goat cheese and figs - a delicious flavor combination, eagerly anticipated by all. But when the pie arrived, it certainly was better in theory than reality. The thin crust was soggy, making the individual slices limp and impossible to transfer from pizza dish to plate - even more impossible to eat without a fork. And the figs were fairly nonexistent - only a few of them dotted the entire pie, perhaps 1/2 a fig per slice. Oh well. At least, as expected, the company of my dinner guests was delightful.

The sparkling lights of Bistro Don Giovanni's patio at nightBut with that pie on the brain, I knew I had to reproduce something with that same flavor combination - something to remedy the pizza's failure. And wouldn't you know it, here's what was waiting for me when I arrived at the office on Monday morning:

Fresh figsFresh figs! Not sure who brought in these lovely figs from their tree, but I thank you. I whisked them all away from the "up-for-grabs" counter in the coffee room, and in that moment, the idea for these puff pastry bites was born. I used the same ingredients as the doomed pizza: carmelized onions, goat cheese and figs - but put my own little spin on it as well: I oven-roasted the figs, glazed them with some local honey, and added fresh chopped rosemary to give it all a fragrant kick. And the store-bought puff pastry shells held up beautifully to the ingredients - nothing soggy or droopy about them.

Puff pastry shells with roasted figs, goat cheese and carmelized onions
Fresh figs; figs roasting in the ovenOnce again, I don't really have a recipe for this creation, just some guidelines:
  • Prepare the puff pastry shells according to package directions, removing the tops when cool
  • Slice figs in half, remove stems, and roast under the broiler until soft
  • At the last minute or two of cooking the figs, brush with melted honey and sprinkle with chopped rosemary; return to broiler and let the honey form a glaze
  • Thinly slice a yellow onion; carmelize in a sauce pan with a bit of butter or olive oil
  • Fill the puff pastry shells with the still-warm carmelized onions and roasted figs; layer with a sprinkling of crumbled goat cheese
  • Return the shells to the broiler to melt the cheese; serve while warm


  1. Thank goodness somebody left you those figs--looks delicious!!!!

  2. This is a wonderful idea!!I love mission figs and paired with cheese these little "bites" will surely bring joy to my heart!!!