It’s Time for California Figs

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

It there’s one cookie I dislike, it’s Fig Newtons…which is interesting because I LOVE figs! I love fresh figs eaten out of hand, fig jam with cheese, dried figs wrapped in bacon and broiled, and any other conceivable way of eating this remarkably delicious morsel of sweetness.

Last month, Steve and I bought a Mission Fig tree for our atrium and a handful of teeny nubs of baby figs have sprouted. The figs are supposed to be especially sweet, so we have our fingers crossed that they’ll stay on the tree long enough to mature and ripen. In the meantime, unable to wait and unsure of our gardening skills, I am buying figs like crazy to celebrate the season.

California’s fresh fig season, which is already underway, lasts through the late fall. The state produces primarily four varieties: Brown Turkey, Black Mission, Kadota and Calimyrna.

How to Select:
Fresh figs should feel plump and heavy and give slightly under gentle pressure; they should not be rock-hard because figs will not ripen after being picked. If figs seem a little squishy they are bordering on being overripe so use them immediately.

How to Store:
Store figs in a single layer on a plate or small cookie sheet, covered with plastic wrap, to keep them from drying out. Fresh Figs are very perishable and bruise easily so be careful when handling and storing them. Keep figs refrigerated at temperatures between 32 to 36° F. Use figs as soon as possible—in a couple of days is best. Under ideal conditions, fresh figs have been known to keep for as long as 5 to 7 days.

Ways to Use:
Here are some simple ways to use fresh figs:

  • Halve or quarter figs and add to green salads.
  • Arrange figs on a cheese board with toasted walnuts.
  • Halve and wrap figs with prosciutto for an appetizer plate; serve as is or grill them.
  • Wrap figs in bacon and broil until bacon is crisp
  • Slice figs and arrange on crostini that has been spread with sheep’s milk ricotta; sprinkle with a few torn bits of prosciutto, a drizzle of honey and some black pepper.
  • Roast figs on a nonstick baking sheet, tossed with olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar, until figs are softened and heated through. Serve as appetizer with cheese or as a dessert.

Or try this easy pizza that can be served as an appetizer, snack or light main course.

Fig Pizza with Blue Cheese and Arugula
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise, in ¼-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 naan flatbreads, each about 10 inches long, or other flatbreads
6 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
4 figs, cut crosswise in ¼-inch-thick slices
Balsamic glaze
½ cup baby arugula

Heat oven to 400°F. In a nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onion; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until onions are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown; set aside.

Place naan breads on a baking sheet; brush with olive oil and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread half of the onion mixture on each naan, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle each naan evenly with 3 tablespoons blue cheese. Arrange two of the sliced figs on each naan, spreading them out evenly. Drizzle each with Balsamic glaze. Bake about 5 more minutes or until crust is golden and toppings are hot. Sprinkle with arugula and serve hot.

Makes 2 servings.

  • At 10 inches long, these flatbreads are quite large; if using smaller flatbreads use more breads and divide toppings accordingly.
  • Instead of blue cheese, you can use goat cheese or shredded cheeses like Manchego or Dubliner.
  • To serve as an appetizer, cut bread in bite-size squares with kitchen shears or a sharp, serrated knife.

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Posted: Jun 7th by Sandy_Hu