Seeing figs on sale at the local market is nature’s reminder that we are approaching the last smoldering days of warm weather. I guess that’s why I get sort of excited and nostalgic at the same time. Fresh figs are fragile and delicate. They don’t last long; keep them refrigerated, do not crash them and eat them quickly.
Pick Your Figs
Mission figs—dark purple almost black skin with dark pink flesh. These are the sweetest kind, and needless to say, my favourite ones!
Brown Turkey figs—dark brownish skin, with a milder flavor.
Adriatic figs—pale yellow skin, bright pink inside and quite sweet.
Calimyrna figs–golden skin, pink flesh with a nutty flavor.
Kadota figs—light green skin and less sweet than the rest.
Daily menu ideas
For breakfast: Serve them fresh (halved, stemmed) over toasted, warm, bread with fresh ricotta, farmer’s cheese or mascarpone and honey. Or just serve them with plain Greek yogurt, some blueberries, and crunchy raw sugar sprinkled on top.
You can also make some fig jam using fresh (stemmed) figs, sugar and lemon. Serve it with warm biscuits or buttery scones.
Starters: Oven-roasted figs wrapped in prosciutto or pancetta, filled with manchego, blue cheese, gorgonzola or goat cheese. Drizzle with honey or with a maple balsamic reduction. You may use fresh herbs like thyme or sage. They both pair wonderfully with figs.
For salads: Brown Turkey figs go very well in salads. Use them fresh, bake them or saute them to caramelize them and serve over greens (cold or warm) with toasted walnuts or pecans and, of course, some nice aged balsamic.
You can also broil them, saute them or grill them. Just brush them with some olive oil, and cook them for a couple of minutes.
For lunch: Savory tarts make a delightful light lunch or anytime brunch or quick dinner. You can even prepare ahead of time, freeze it and use when needed. Just think figs, caramelized onions, basil, sage, thyme, goat, feta cheese, gorgonzola or blue cheese.
Want to add them in your sandwiches and panini? Pickle them! You’ll have a great balance of sweet and salty, just add some prosciutto or jamón serrano, ricotta or mozzarella either on focaccia or country bread.
For a lazy Sunday afternoon snack: Serve them halved with soft goat cheese pressed on top, crushed pistachios, honey or syrupy balsamic. Devour!
Pizza: Homemade, frozen or even gluten free crust works well. Top with mozzarella, Asiago, blue cheese or gorgonzola, prosciutto, figs, sage and basil. Serve with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling.
For dessert: Saute them in butter, deglaze the pan with rum, add some spices and sugar, and serve over your favorite ice cream or with some fresh whipped cream.
Figs also make great pies and tarts, both sweet and savory. If you are looking for a quick, easy one, go for a warm fig crumble pie and serve it with lavender-honey ice cream. Yet there is one tart I can’t keep myself away from: the irresistible frangipane fig tart. So here is the recipe:
Frangipane Fig Tart
1/2 c raw almonds*
1/4 c sugar
Pinch of Kosher salt
1/2 T lemon or orange zest
1 T all-purpose flour
3 T unsalted butter, cut in three pieces
2 large eggs, organic, cage and hen free
1 t vanilla extract
- In a food processor combine almonds, sugar, salt and zest. Pulse until coarse.
- Add flour. Once combined, add butter one piece at a time.
- Follow with the eggs, one at a time. Finish with the extract.
- Refrigerate until chilled.
For Pie Crust
You can either make your own crust or buy it frozen. Note that I don’t use shortening on my recipes. Though it will give you a flakier texture, I prefer to use organic—or European butter instead.
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t kosher salt
1 T white sugar
Zest of a lemon, optional
1/2 c very cold unsalted organic butter, cut into pieces; extra for pan
1/4 c ice water or cold whole organic milk
1 pint of fresh Mission figs, halved and stemmed
- In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add the butter and combine using a food processor or your hands, until coarse.
- Then, little by little, add ice water or cold milk, until the dough holds together without being sticky. But do not over mix!
- Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours before using.
Assemble the tart:
- Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly, around and up the sides. Do not over press the crust. Freeze for 30 minutes or longer before baking.
- Preheat oven at 375ºF.
- Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (enough to cover the tart pan) and place it tightly on top of the crust, buttered side down.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let it cool slightly.
- Pour frangipane filling into tart pan. Lay the figs on top of the frangipane in any pattern of your choice. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is set.
- Drizzle with honey, if desired, and serve with fresh-lemon whipped cream or creme fraiche, or with any ice cream of your choice.
Kitchen notes: To breakdown the antinutrients in the almonds, just soak them overnight in water with salt, and dehydrate them the next day. You can either use a dehydrator or the oven set at 150ºF.
If you are using a frozen crust, you can either pre-bake and bake (as instructed above), or bake for 50 minutes or until filling is set.