Recently, my friend David--the choral director at our school, known as my "building husband"--joined me for dinner here at home. (My real husband, Joe, was out of town and David and I were overdue for a "shop talk" session). David brought a lovely Biltmore Chenin Blanc and I served these tarts; sliced heirloom tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and a fresh basil garnish, and my Roasted Zucchini and Japanese Eggplant with Vegan Horseradish Sauce. The crust of these tarts is delicious enough to eat by itself, but don't miss this filling, flavored with a little Smoked Paprika for that addicting bean and smoke combination. And fresh figs? Well, they are my absolute favorite fruit. Such a shame that their appearance in our area is so fleeting, though the varieties ripen at different times, extending the season. Since my theme for this dish was South'ren, I decided on a drizzle made from steeped tea. Sounds easy, right? Not! I made three different versions. The first two were inedible, as the tea became too bitter. I tried to concentrate the flavor by using a high tea bag to water ratio and reducing the mixture by simmering. Not a good idea. So, trust me: you don't want to sneak in additional tea bags nor reduce the sauce dramatically. But, made according to the recipe below, you will want to drink it! Plus, it is such a pretty color and makes the figs glisten even more than they do on their own.

Southern Savory Tarts With Fresh Figs and Sweet Tea Drizzle [Vegan]



  • Press-In Crust (recipe follows)
  • Butter Bean Puree (recipe follows)
  • 8 fresh figs, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise (if figs are plump, cut each into 3 to 4 lengthwise slices, in which case you'll need less figs)
  • Sweet Tea Drizzle
  • 4 sprigs of fresh sage
Press-In Pie Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour (I love the nutty flavor of whole wheat flour in this recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons natural sugar
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons soymilk
Butter Bean Puree
  • Approximately 2 cups fresh butter beans, covered with lightly salted water and simmered, loosely covered, over medium-high heat for approximately 20 minutes or until just tender; drain
  • 3/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces
  • 6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste, any color (you may substitute soy sauce, but I find miso tastier and mellower)
  • 3 tablespoons beer or non-alcholic beer
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste
Sweet Tea Drizzle
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tea bags (I use an English Breakfast, but use whatever you like)
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shallot (yellow or red onion makes a fine substitution)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons agave nectar or natural sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • Optional: approximately 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  1. To make each tart, spread one-fourth of the Butter Bean Puree evenly in each baked crust.  (If you choose to use less filling, simply store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
  2. Drizzle each with a little of the sauce.
  3. Top with fig halves, flesh side up, in a cross design, narrow ends facing out.
  4. Drizzle the tops of each tart with the remaining sauce.
  5. Garnish, if desired, with a sage sprig in the center.
Press-In Pie
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the Canola oil and soymilk.
  4. Pour this mixture into the well and use a fork or your fingers to combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing just until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Divide the dough into fourths and press each into the bottom and sides of the tart pans.
  6. Using the bottom of a drinking glass to do the pressing can help achieve a smooth and even crust.
  7. If making an 8-inch tart, you can mix the dough right in the bottom of the tart pan before pressing.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set and lightly golden.
  9. Cool the shells slightly or to room temperature before filling.
Butter Bean Puree
  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process just until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Check for seasoning and adjust as desired.  Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until needed.  If you refrigerate the puree, bring to room temperature or heat gently before using so that it will be easier to spread.
Sweet Tea Drizzle
  1. In a medium (2-quart) saucepan, bring the water to a gentle boil, add tea bag, and remove from heat.
  2. Allow only to steep for one and one-half minutes.  Otherwise, the tea is too strong and develops a bitter taste.  Alternatively, bring the water and tea bags to a simmer in the microwave, which takes about 30 seconds,  and steep for an additional minute.  Being careful not to burn yourself, squeeze out the tea bags between two spoons.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat olive oil.  Add shallot and, stirring almost constantly, saute for a minute or until it begins to soften.
  4. Add garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring until both are softened, about another minute or two.  Reduce heat if necessary to prevent from cooking too fast.
  5.  Add the tea to the shallot mixture along with the remaining ingredients except the sage leaves.
  6. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until flavors are melded and the sauce is very slightly reduced.
  7. Turn off the heat, add sage leaves, stir, and allow them to steep in the sauce for just about a minute.  Any longer, and they will impart too much flavor and overwhelm the sauce.  Set the sauce aside, covered, until ready to use.

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