What to do with Fabulous Figs

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Growing up in Hilo, we had a fig tree. It was one of many fruit trees in our backyard.

The mango, mountain apple, tangerine, litchi and guava trees thrived in our lush, Hawaiian climate. The fig tree did not.

It was puny and didn’t yield much fruit. And the fruit it did produce tended to be undersized. Ants, attracted to the sweetness, burrowed into the figs so you had to split them open to check for the little critters before taking a bite. Still, I loved that fig tree and to this day, I can’t wait for fig season.

The season runs from late summer through early fall, so July is a little early to be buying figs, but I couldn’t resist purchasing some I found last week, even if they weren’t so perfect and I knew they wouldn’t be so sweet. I figured these out-of-season figs were a good candidate for roasting, which would intensify their sweetness, and wrapping in bacon, which would remedy all sins.

When you buy figs—and unlike me, you will buy them in season—select ones that are soft, but not wet and squishy. Like strawberries, figs do not ripen after harvest so there’s no “better later”—what you buy is what you get.

Figs are fragile and bruise easily so store carefully. Arrange them in one layer on a plate, cover loosely with a paper towel and refrigerate. Use within a few days.

When figs are in season and at their best, I like to eat them out of hand. They don’t need much done to them because they’re so delicious as is.

However, if you’d like to dress them up a bit, try roasting figs that have been stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. Allow two figs per serving.

As an alternative to roasting, you can stuff the figs with cheese, wrap in prosciutto instead of bacon, and serve at room temperature, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with kosher salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

Roasted Cheese-Stuffed Figs with Bacon

For EACH fresh fig:
½ to 1 slice bacon (regular; not thick-cut)
About ½ teaspoon goat cheese, blue cheese or feta

Heat oven to 400⁰F. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut a cross in the top of the fig, cutting down ¾ of the way. Gently open the fig and insert cheese in the center. Close the fig and form it back to its natural shape. Wrap bacon around fig, overlapping the ends slightly. Trim excess bacon with kitchen shears and use trimmings for another purpose. (For smaller figs, one slice of bacon can be cut in half to wrap two figs perfectly.)

Repeat for remaining figs.

Put figs in a single layer in a baking dish and roast about 17 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Serve hot.

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Posted: Jul 24th by Sandy_Hu