I am continually surprised at how many people have not succumbed to the pleasure of a fresh fig. I’m sure it’s because the word “fig” is associated with the shriveled up dried fruit plate that your Grandparents received at the holidays, or with a dusty Fig Newton.
May I just say that a fresh fig tastes nothing like either one of them?
Fabulous Fresh Figs
A fresh fig is mildly sweet with a texture that combines the creaminess of their flesh and the crunchiness of their seeds. The combination is nothing short of addictively luxurious.
It doesn’t hurt that the fig is naturally fat free and cholesterol free, as well as being rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium and calcium. Their case is also improved by the fact that they are naturals for the camera.
There are more than 150 varieties of figs. Here are just three of them that you can find at your local store right now.
- Brown Turkey (left) : purple skin and red flesh with a robust flavor, these slightly less sweet beauties are the most commonly grown fig in California
- Black Mission (top right two) : with its blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh, this fig has an earthy, seductive flavor
- Calimyrna (bottom right): with its greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh, this bright beauty is known for its nut-like flavor
At the recent Figology Fest LA, sponsored by the California Fig Industry and presented by food bloggers Erika Kerekes and Judy Lyness we received a crate of these three varieties so that we could taste, and experiment. Here are a few of the delightful dishes that were served.
Grilled Fresh Figs with Spicy Pork was a hit. Figs are perfect for the grill.
Turkey Confit with Fig Chutney on Endive was beautifully plated and served with a generous smile.
All dishes at our food blogging events must go through the “photo test” before it ever hits our mouths. Figs are the most gratifying – the visuals never disappoint.
Judy drizzles honey over her “backup” Fresh Fig and Lemon Tart. So what happened to her first Fig Tart you ask?
Kerplop. That’s what happened. Nobody was hurt in this tragic fall, so the party rolled on.
The finale was a Fig Zinfandel Sorbet with Salted Caramel Sauce and Candied Nuts. A perfect ending to a very sweet (and savory) fig party.
Judy made these wonderful appetizers with Parmesan Crisps. You can also use your favorite cracker or crostini. Instead of mascarpone with a dash of lemon zest, try ricotta, cream cheese or Brie. Drizzle with a reduced balsamic glaze or honey. Figs are very versatile so let your imagination run wild!
Fresh Figs on Parmesan Crisps
- 1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
- 4 ounces Mascarpone
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 5 ripe fresh figs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make crackers:
On greased baking sheet spoon one tablespoon of grated Parmesan on one side of the sheet. Using your fingers, press the cheese into a circle. Continue making 16 cheese circles. Leave enough space between crackers, as the cheese will spread.
Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until the edges are browned.
Remove baked crackers with spatula and place on cooling rack. Don’t leave on baking sheet because they will stick. (really, really stick!)
Place balsamic in saucepan over medium/low heat and reduce to 1/4 cup about 5 minutes. Cool.
Mix lemon zest into the mascarpone.
Place crackers on a tray.
Spoon one teaspoon of mascarpone on cracker. Depending on size of fig, slice in half or in quarters. Place fig piece on mascarpone. Continue until all crackers are complete.
Drizzle reduced balsamic over finished crackers.
Crackers can be made up to two days before serving. Place in airtight container.
Fig Quote of the Day:
“Shape is a good part of the fig’s delight.” – Jane Grigson
True, but taste is the best part of the fig’s allure.
…and then, she paused for thought.