Working through the backlog of things I have cooked but not posted, I came across the photos of this recipe for medieval, Italian stuffed figs. At the time I was staying with a friend in one of the Sydney lockdowns and there wasn’t much to get excited about except for the figs ripening on our neighbour’s tree. Inspired by the bounty across the fence, I went a bit fig mad with a recipe for medieval fig potage and then, when I got my hands on some fresh figs, these stuffed figs.
The recipe comes from a manuscript (MS Buhler 19) held in the Morgan Library in New York and published by Terence Scully under the name The Neapolitan Recipe Collection. The cookbook was written by an unknown author, about the second half of the 15th century near Naples but with a strong Catalan influence.
f. 63v Fritelle de Fiche Piene
Piglia amandole he pignoli, he pista molto bene – dico, che ogni cosa sia biancha – he pista insieme due bone fiche he un poco de uva passa; poi taglia un poco de petrosillo ben trito, he habi bone specie he miscola insieme; he se questa materia fusse troppo dura, pone insieme un poco de aqua rosada; poi piglia fiche belle he grosse he falli un buco dove sta el fiore suo he impele de questa materia; poi falle frigere in bono olio, adasio dico. – The Neapolitan Recipe Collection, pg 80
Stuffed Fig Fritters. Get almonds and pinenuts and grind them up thoroughly -I say everything must be white – and grind in two good figs and a few raisins; cut up a little well chopped parsley and mix in good spices; if this mixture is too thick, add in a little rosewater; then get fine big figs, make a hole in them where their flower is, fill them with the mixture and fry them in good oil -slowly, I say. – The Neapolitan Recipe Collection, pg 202
My taste tester and I agreed that the fried figs were good, and the filling was good, but that we weren’t particularly impressed by the combination of the two. Maybe with a bit more finessing, this could be a lovely addition to a medieval meal.
Neapolitan Stuffed Figs
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 dried figs, chopped
a small handful of raisins
a small handful of parsley, finely chopped
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
4 or 5 fresh figs
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. In a mortar and pestle grind the pinenuts then add the ground almonds (or grind your own fresh), dried figs, and raisins. When it is turning into a paste, add the parsley and spices and a little rosewater, if necessary, to moisten it.
2. Take the fresh figs and cut holes in the base of the figs. Finely chop the bases and add them to the paste. Stuff the paste into the holes in the figs with your fingers.
3. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and, when it is hot, fry the figs. Turn them so that they cook on each side and until golden and softened. Serve warm.