Let me tell you what you have to look forward to in the next couple weeks. Fresh figs! They seem to always be dry at the regular markets or tease you for a stiff price at Whole Foods and farmers markets. However, they linger on the lower produce shelves at Trader Joe’s with a humble sweetness, both in flavor and price. It may be a different story where you live, but that’s the song I’m going to sing as I encourage you to start eating fresh figs… wherever you choose to find them.
After I graduated college, I spent some time working at Villa Lucia, a little bed and breakfast in the heart of Tuscany. Lots of stories, lessons learned and certainly a number of cooking tips acquired. Days were spent cooking for dinner parties, bottling tomato sauce and, in the fall, harvesting olives from sunrise to sunset. Hugh was there in the summer and fell in with the ex Italian Special Forces Paratrooper turned groundskeeper- but that is another story, and a far less glamorous on than mine. The property has ginormous fig trees, hence canning fig preserves. No sugar, no preservatives, just boiled figs. A few jars made their way home with me, and that is what I used in this recipe, but you could use any fruit preserve that is naturally sweetened. If you really want to be rustic, you could make your own (simmer berries in their own juices on low heat for about an hour+). This recipe is lowfat, high fiber and much more of a breakfast/snack bar than a dessert.
SPELT AND OAT FIG BARS // Makes 12 Bars
1 ¼ Cups Spelt Flour
1 ¾ Cups Oatmeal
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tsp. Real Vanilla Extract
½ tsp. Almond Extract
¾ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Applesauce
2 tbsp. Butter (to ensure a crisp crumble topping)
1 ¼ Cups Fig Preserves (or any other fruit preserves, naturally sweetened)
1. Oven to 350’. In a large bowl, sift all dry ingredients together (spelt flour, 1 ½ cups oats, salt, cinnamon, baking soda ).
2. In a second bowl, whisk the brown sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extracts and applesauce. Add in the dry mixture, and mix to incorporate. It should look like cookie batter at this point.
3. Spray a 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Spread the preserves evenly over the bottom layer.
4. With the remaining mix, add another ¼ cup oats and 2tbsp of butter. Mix with your fingers. Crumble it on top of the preserve layer.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is a bit crispy. Let them cool a bit before cutting.
*Enjoy with some greek yogurt or ice cream to balance this fibrous bar :)