The perfect time to enjoy fresh figs is late summer through the fall. These plump juicy fruits can be eaten plain or in sweet or savory dishes, and will bring a lovely deliciousness to any meal. So skip the dried figs for a few months to delight in fresh ones.
All about figs
There are many types of figs available throughout the world. Some of the most common are Alma, Brown Turkey, Celeste, Italian Black or White, Kadota, Lemon Figs, Adriatic, Calimyrna and Mission Figs.
Some of the most common figs — Mission Figs, Calimryna, Adriatic or Kadotaare — are from California. Of these varieties, all are golden skinned (except the Mission Figs) and are great for drying or eating as is or in sweet and savory dishes.
Choosing, storing, and prepping figs
Figs are very perishable, especially in warm weather, and are best eaten within a day or two or purchase.
Selecting figs: When choosing figs, pick richly-colored, blemish-free fruits that are soft but not mushy. Also, opt for figs with a lovely fruity smell, which indicates ripeness as well as peak antioxidant content.
Storing figs: Store figs in the refrigerator in a single layer in a container or on paper towels (covered), not near anything that will bruise them. If the figs you bought were just a bit too under ripe, ripen them in a dark cool area of your kitchen.
Preparing figs: To prepare fresh figs, simply wash and remove the stems. They can then be eaten as is or halved, sliced or diced.
Serving suggestions for figs
One of the most popular ways to eat figs are in figs bars. An elegant way to enjoy them is stuffed with a soft cheese and wrapped in prosciutto or bacon. Figs can even be made into a tasty pasta sauce or simply added to salads and breakfast cereals. For dessert, figs are delicious poached and served over ice cream or angel food cake.
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs
Makes 9 servings
9 large fresh figs, stemmed and halved
18 thin slices of prosciutto, about 4 ounces
3 tablespoons goat cheese
18 large pecan pieces, toasted
1. Preheat broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wrap each half of a fig in a slice of prosciutto and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.
2. Place figs under the broiler and cook about 2 minutes or until prosciutto gets slightly crispy. Flip figs to cook the other side, about 2 minutes.
3. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese onto each fig and place them back on the baking sheet.
4. Place under the broiler again for about 30 seconds or until cheese is just warmed and softened. Top each fig with a pecan piece.
Bacon and Fig Pasta
Makes 4 servings
1 pound dried or fresh linguine
1/2 pound bacon
1 small zucchini
8 fresh figs, stemmed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of salt
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain (saving about 3/4 cup pasta water) and set aside. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy in microwave or skillet.
2. Thread zucchini and figs on skewers and place on preheated grill. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until softened. Remove zucchini and figs from grill and dice.
3. Next, sauté garlic in 1/2 cup pasta water in a skillet for a few seconds until it is fragrant then add zucchini, figs, bacon and pasta.
4. Add cheese and season with pepper and salt. Toss in a skillet until heated through. Add more pasta water if needed to loosen sauce. Serve with more cheese, if desired.
Makes 8 servings
1 (9-inch) pie crust, baked
3/4 pound fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites
1. Place figs in a pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 hours or until tender, adding more water if needed to keep them moist.
2. When figs are finished, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine 2 whole eggs with 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt then pour mixture into pot with figs, whisking well and until there are no lumps.
3. Continue cooking over low heat until the mixture becomes thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour mixture into pre baked shell. Next, whisk egg whites until stiff.
4. The beat in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until a meringue is made. Spoon meringue over pie and place in oven.
5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned.