I wait impatiently all summer for mid-August to arrive for one reason: fresh figs. Sometimes purple, sometimes chartreuse or yellow, the fruit is in season for just a few weeks. Before we know it, we'll be in the middle of September, and they'll be almost impossible to find — fresh, that is. So if it seems like there's a sudden frenzy over the fruit right now, that's why. That, and its unmistakable resemblance to a certain bit of male anatomy — is it just me who thinks so? — which then opens up into something far more ladylike inside.
The fig's charms don't necessarily work on everyone. "OK, I got them," read the caption I recently saw on an Instagram photo of fresh figs, one bisected to reveal the salacious pink interior. "What am I missing? #unimpressed."
To be fair, it takes heat to reveal the full expression of figs' flavor. And figs love nothing more than when they're coupled, sticky with a fruity glaze, with pork.
Last year The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, New York, had a dish of chorizo sausage with figs in a tarry balsamic sauce so dark it was almost black. We were nearly inconsolable when figs went out of season and the dish disappeared from the menu.
It's not back on the menu this year (yet!), but I've been able to make a close-enough version at home. I brown fresh chorizo sausage, remove it to rest and create a glaze from the drippings with balsamic vinegar, chopped shallots, thyme and a splash of red wine. As it reduces, I add the figs, hopefully timing it so it's done while the figs are still intact. I slice the chorizo into rounds and toss it with the figs before serving with crusty bread.
Last night I poached quartered figs in sweet vermouth and thyme and added them, still warm, to mixed greens and goat cheese for an easy salad.
Figs are wonderful on pizza, and we haven't even gotten into desserts. We'll be posting a slideshow full of fig recipes for you soon, but in the meantime, here's a recipe by celeb chef Elizabeth Falkner that we just got and had to share. The recipe calls for dried figs to be braised with honey and beer, but I think you could use fresh and it would be amazing.
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