Gettin' Figgy With It.
(Sorry about the post title. I couldn't resist.)
Figs: they are beautiful, exotic and in season. I've never cooked with figs so when I spotted these pretty little guys at the market, I threw caution to the wind and added them to my cart. Crazy life I lead.
Figs have been mentioned in the bible and other ancient texts and have been a staple in the Mediterranean diet ever since. So revered were they that in the 9th Century Greece laws were put in place protecting highest quality figs from export. The ancient Romans considered them sacred.
In the U.S. , figs are almost predominately grown in California, having been introduced by Spanish explorers in the 1600s.
Figs are a great source of potassium, fiber and calcium. This means they are good at regulating blood pressure, keeping us think and our bones strong.
How do we eat them? Anyway you want. These little suckers are versatile and are the perfect sweet foil for salty cheeses and peppery vegetables like arugula.
They are perfect sliced raw on top of a simple salad (think arugula, a crumbly blue and a light vinaigrette).
Dried: Try mashing dried figs up with a little lemon juice and water (add wine or balsamic vinegar to taste if you'd like) for a nice fig spread.
Cooked: Common methods include poaching, roasting and my new favorite, grilling.
- Soak halved figs cut side down in balsamic vinegar for at least 30 minutes;
- Brush cut side with olive oil, sprinkle generously with coarse salt and pepper.
- Place figs cut side down on a medium heat grill (350 degrees).
- Grill without moving for 8-10 minutes. You are going for a smokey sweetness light grill marks and a softened fig.
- Slice a baguette into 1/2" pieces.
- Toast lightly on grill along side figs for less than 1 minute.
- Lightly brush with olive oil.
- Spread a fresh cheese like Chevre, sheep's milk ricotta or slices of Manchego on top of bread. (or use all three for a variety)
- Top with grilled figs, salt, pepper and fresh parsley. For an added Mediterranean touch, try fresh greek oregano. (Either way, the touch of green is both tasty and pretty.)
Other options for Grilled figs:
- Forget the toast and just press a teaspoon of goat cheese into the fig half and a few drips of balsamic or a balsamic glaze. Coarse salt, pepper and chopped parsley.
- Use to top off a simple salad (see above) instead of raw figs.