If my mom's fig tree is correct, then it's fig season!!! Can I get a woot woot for that?
Please excuse the ridiculous display of enthusiasm. I get a little overly excited for seasonal fruits and veggies, especially those with a limited growing season.
Despite growing up with two large fig trees in my front yard, I didn't eat them until recently. They fell victim to my snotty teenage attitude towards any "weird" foods. Certainly, an odd looking fruit growing in your front yard fell into that category. If only I could go back in time and give my teenage self a swift kick in the rear. I was missing out on an endless supply of nature's candy!
Figs are a truly unique fruit. They're not very juicy, but rather chewy with a creamy, sometimes sticky center. Their jammy insides are studded with crunchy little seeds, which I love, despite their tendency to get stuck in my teeth.
Sidebar: My dentist once told me I have "the type of teeth that food loves to get stuck in." Dental friends, is this a real thing? Also, never tell your patients this. I have basically turned into an obsessive compulsive post-meal tooth-brusher since learning about my freakisly shaped teeth.
Now, back to figs. Unlike the candy I compare them to, figs are packed with nutrition. Figs, especially dried figs, are rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps lower blood pressure. Most people are aware of salt's tendency to raise blood pressure. Well, potassium is kinda like the anti-salt and eating plenty of high potassium fruits and vegetables may be as effective as lowering sodium intake for blood pressure. Figs are also high in fiber, with about 1.5 grams per fig. And if you're cutting back on dairy, figs are a nice way to sneak a little extra calcium in.
You might notice a few different types of figs. Here's the most common:
Black Mission - The most syrupy sweet of all the figs. Small with a deep purple color and pink center, black missons are named for being the main type of fig grown at Catholic missions in California. They are considered the highest quality fig. Their jammy sweetness and sticky texture makes black missions the perfect accompaniment on a cheese plate paired with creamy cheeses like goat cheese or mascarpone.
Brown Turkey - Brown turkey figs are a nutty brown color, often with hints of green around the stem. They are less sweet, but still very flavorful. I like to use these figs in salad. If they were at Trader Joes when I was for this recipe, they would have been my first choice.
Calimyrna - These are the figs pictured on todays post. Calimyrna's are a golden greenish-yellow color with a similarly colored flesh. They are a little less sweet with a nutty flavor.
Kadota - These golden yellow figs are much less sweet than the other types. I think they would go best in a dishes needing only a hint of sweetness. Try these figs chopped over oatmeal or in a dessert tart to keep it from being too rich.
I suggest you take my advice and eat your fill of figs during their short growing season. Here are some of my favorite fig-tastic (bahaha!) recipes:
- Wrap a fig with proscuitto and either roast or grill it until crispy. Serve as an elegant appetizer or on a bed of arugula drizzled with a balsamic glaze.
- Figs make a uniquely delicious pizza topping. Try figs, caramelized onions and blue cheese or spinach, goat cheese and figs.
- Slice fresh figs over creamy plain Greek yogurt and drizzle with a bit of honey
- Fill a sliced fig with a little butter, honey and chopped walnuts then roast it in the oven for a healthy dessert
- Toss whole wheat spaghetti with greens sauteed in olive oil and garlic, sliced fresh figs, and toasted walnuts
- Dip figs in melted dark chocolate, sprinkle with flaky salt and refrigerate to harden
- Make a grilled cheese sandwich with sliced figs, brie cheese and chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
- Fill with goat cheese, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper
Arugula with Figs, Proscuitto and Goat Cheese
Serves 4Mixed greens
8 fresh figs, quartered
4 ounces thinly sliced proscuitto, cut into strips
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Toss together arugula, figs, and proscuitto in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toss the salad with dressing. Sprinkle with goat cheese. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper.