Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What to Do with All These . . . Figs?

Luckily, it is now fig season in southern California. Perhaps the strangest and most wonderful fruit of all to eat fresh, figs satisfy like no other fruit. They are packed full of rich nutrition, hearty, not-too-sweet taste, and ooey-gooey goodness.
Figs are high in dietary fiber and are a rich source of magnesium and potassium. They are also relatively high in vitamins A, B, and C and low in calories, about 50 calories each.

Sadly, you do not find fresh figs in the market very often as they don’t ship well. But the good news is that if you live near where they grow—in Florida or California or any Mediterranean climate areas worldwide—you will have the pleasure of enjoying an exotic food with a low carbon footprint.

The only thing not to love about figs is that period of not knowing what on Earth to do with an abundance of them. A ripe fig lasts for only a couple of days, and then it's a furry mess. If you have a tree—which we do right beside our front stoop—you will find that one day you have a fig or two and the next day you have 50.

What to do with all these figs while you have them? Here are some recipes I came up with myself--some dessert, some savory. Enjoy.

WhatEye8's Figgy Salad Dressing
You simply cannot imagine how good this salad dressing is until you try it, nor how it will turn a humble salad into a taste explosion that will make you take three helpings of salad.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon demerara sugar (if you use turbinado, it's too chunky to blend in well—demerara works perfectly)
Sprinkling of granulated garlic of 1 clove crushed garlic
Sprinkling of salt
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 ripe fig, chopped into small pieces

Add all ingredients in a shakable container, such as a jar with a lid. Smoosh the fig bits with the back of a fork until mostly smooshed (is that technical terminology or what?). Close the container and shake, shake, shake. Serve with a spoon and allow guests to drench their own salad. Goes well over a nice mixture of lettuces, cukes, carrots and other crispy veggies—but do not serve with tomato. Tomato somehow interferes with the flavor/acidity of the fig and is not a good pairing. Toss on some crunchy nuts and you have a salad fit for royalty.

Fig Compote

Serve this heady fig compote on toast, pancakes, ice cream, or even in a little bowl topped with fresh whipped cream.

1 pound fresh figs, about 10
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of demerara sugar
1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon

Remove the hard stem ends from the figs, then cut each fig into 8 pieces. Put the figs in a saucepan with the water, adding in the lemon juice and sugar. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the figs mixture is thick and resembles jelly. Allow to cool.

Fig Ice Cream
Fig ice cream is a trippy flavor you have to try while you are still on this planet. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The fig is subtle, almost vanilla-y. And once you’ve made the compote, you are oh-so-close to the ice cream of your life—go for it.

Add the fig compote [directions above], after it is completely cooled, to one cup heavy whipping cream. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and proceed as directed by the manufacturer. This does not make a lot, but the fig ice cream is so rich, you need only a scoop—along with some extra crispy cookies—to be in paradise.

WhatEye8’s Fig Appetizer

6 fresh figs

¼ cup crumbled goat cheese (chevre)

1 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey)

Remove the hard stem ends from the figs. Slice each fig into four quadrants, lengthwise. Arrange the figs on a platter in a loose group, sprinkle with the goat cheese, and then drizzle with the agave nectar. Serve with small forks and salad plates. Although this isn’t exactly a finger food, it’s a lovely way to perk up the appetite before a meal.