It's fig time and I thought I'd repost a collection of chowhound suggestions I put together last year.
· Cut the stem of the figs and gently open like a flower and put in bowl. If the figs are huge then cut in half. Second, hand tear one bundle of basil leaves. Third, cut up fresh mozzarella (salted please) into one inch cubes. Fourth, tear off shreds of good prosciutto. Fifth, mix up the salad with a dressing made from good olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper (all to your individual taste). It does not need a lot of dressing, but provides a heavenly array of flavors on the plate. This could have been dinner.
· Stem and cut figs in half lengthwise. Wrap in a half slice of Proscuitto (just to get a single layer of proscuitto), thread wrapped figs on a skewer. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and grill on low heat, just to heat it through.
· For dessert, cut fig in half again, and serve with fresh raspberries and honey sweetened mascarpone. A sprinkle of cinnamon in the mascarpone works.
· Slice figs and serve with premium coffee ice cream with a drizzle of sweetened espresso over it all.
· Spread half a fig with light Boursain cheese spread and topped it with a walnut. Lots a flavor and the nut stuck to the fig.
· A little cream cheese and a candied pecan on half a fig was good for a quick summer dessert.
· Halved and wrapped in thinly sliced pancetta, grilled, and served with bitter greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette with a little balsamico for an extra hit.
· Halve and bake them at 400 or 425 with honey and orange juice drizzled over. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or orange whipped cream.
· Homemade thin crust pizza with fig jam/preserves, cambonzola cheese and proscuitto - amazing!!! Throw the stone on the BBQ and have a pizza with all the summer pizza toppings - tomato, basil, grilled veggies, etc.
· Quarter figs, grill (or roast) them briefly, then push a small chunk of smoked fresh goat cheese into the fig and wrap with a bit of Serrano ham. The still-warm fig softens the ham slightly. For maximum eyes-rolling-back-in-head action, drizzle with a little real balsamico.
· Slice them in half. Put them in a toaster oven on dark for one or two cycles to roast them, make sure not to burn them. Use a vegetable grater to shave some Reggiano over them and make a Basalmic reduction and drizzle a little bit over them. Sweet, Sour, Salty, Nutty. Each bite is pure heaven. Serve them warm.
· Salad made with arugula and some water- or pepper-cress. Top with quartered figs, mild goat cheese and perhaps some toasted nuts. a drizzle of good balsamic and olive oil and you're set.
· Fig vodka: in a gallon jar, fill the bottom 1/4 or 1/5 of the jar with stemmed figs, and pour the vodka over. Let it hang out for a few months.
· Make a fig-balsamic syrup. Simmer a bottle of good (not "special") balsamic (Fino) with several diced figs. Let it get slightly syrupy. strain to remove the seeds and rebottle - you can use this over vanilla ice cream and it's divine.
· Take a good crusty roll and put sliced figs, prosciutto, fontina cheese, arugula and a light drizzle of olive oil & balsamic.
· If in the mood for something sweet, try slicing the figs in half, dusting the tops with a small amount of sugar and putting them under the broiler for a few minutes. The caramelized fig flavor is amazing and you'll usually get a bit of fig "juice" that releases from the fruit and collects in the center of the fig half.
· Make a slightly tart raspberry coulis and place it at the bottom of a shallow bowl, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and some figs sautéed in a bit of butter and brown sugar so they were a bit caramelized.
1 lb finely cut unpeeled rhubarb
1/4 lb chopped, stemmed figs
3 tablespoon lemon juice
Cover with 1 lb sugar and let stand for 24 hours. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until thickened.
2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar 1/2 pound light brown sugar 1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, 1/4 lemon, zested, 1/2 cinnamon stick 1 3/4 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1 1/4 pounds firm, slightly under ripe fresh figs, rinsed, stems removed and halved
In a large saucepan combine the vinegar, sugar, onion, ginger, mustard seeds, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, salt, allspice, and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by 2/3, forming a thick syrup. Add the figs and cook gently until the figs are very soft and beginning to fall apart and most of the liquid they've given off has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the chutney to a non-reactive container and allow to come to room temperature before serving. The chutney may be made up to 3 weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. (Alternately, hot chutney may be ladled into hot sterilized canning jars and processed in a hot-water bath according to manufacturer's directions.)
Fig and Gorgonzola Quesadillas
I used dried figs but I don't see why fresh would not work as well. Just spread equal amounts of the cheese and chopped figs atop one tortilla and top with another. Brush both sides with a bit of olive oil. Grill over direct heat on both sides just briefly to get grill marks, move away from coals shut lid and heat about 2 to 3 minutes.
Roast figs with parma ham and rocket (serves six as a starter)
Starters do not come much simpler than this. Excellent dinner party fare: foolproof, even for large numbers, and extremely popular.
12 figs, not overripe
12 slices parma ham
500g (1lb 2oz) rocket leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
Wrap each fig in a slice of the ham so that it is completely enclosed, and set in an ovenproof dish. Place in a preheated very hot oven (240°C/475°F/gas mark 9) and roast for 8-10 minutes. The ham should be crisp and the fig bursting with juice inside. Dress the rocket with the olive oil and lemon juice - no further seasoning - and arrange in a pile on six plates. Place two figs on each heap and serve as is.
Oakleaf, fig and goat's cheese salad (serves six as a starter)
While there is nothing particularly autumnal about oakleaf (apart from its appearance) that lovely delicate lettuce with deep red leaves (that can be green rather than red, as it happens) and pale yellow hearts combines beautifully with both figs and cheese.
18 very thin slices of stale baguette or ciabatta
100g (31/2oz) semi-soft goat's cheese
1 tbsp double cream
2 heads oakleaf lettuce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp milled black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Toast the bread under a hot grill. Mash the goat's cheese with the cream to form a smooth paste and spread this on the croutons. Peel and quarter the figs. Discard any wilted outer leaves of the salad and separate the rest into bite size pieces. Wash tenderly and dry thoroughly. Dissolve the mustard and salt in the vinegar, add the pepper then whisk in the olive oil. Assemble all the ingredients in a salad bowl, croutons on top, pour over the vinaigrette and serve.
Baked figs with feta and mint (serves six as a starter, dessert or accompaniment)
50ml (2fl oz) red wine
25ml (1fl oz) red wine vinegar
100ml (4fl oz) olive oil
1/2 tsp coarsely milled black pepper
100g (4oz) feta cheese
20 leaves of mint
Wash the figs and then cut them in half from head to toe (or stem to base) to create a heart shape. Place these halves with the cut side uppermost in an ovenproof dish good-looking enough to bring to the table. Make a marinade with the juice of the orange, the red wine, the vinegar, the olive oil and the pepper, whisking them together very well and then spooning this mixture over each of the figs. Place the dish in a medium hot oven (220°C/425°F/gas mark 7) for 12 minutes, basting once with the marinade from the dish.
Cut the feta into 1cm (1/2in) cubes. Scatter these over the figs and return the dish to the oven for two or three minutes, or until the feta is half-melted on top of the figs. Coarsely chop the mint leaves and scatter over the figs. Baste the figs one more time with the juices from the tray and then let cool for half an hour before serving.
Spiced figs (makes three liters, or two large Kilner jars)
The thoughtful and well organized will doubtless prepare many jars of these to give to friends at Christmas. If you just want some spiced figs but do not want the bother (such as it is) of preserving jars, simply pour the pickling mixture over some figs in a bowl, cover them with a plate and refrigerate for one week. They are particularly good with cooked ham.
20 fresh figs, ripe but not bursting
500ml (18fl oz) cider vinegar
500g (1lb 2oz) light brown unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
6 cloves corns
20 pepperoni stick
1 red chili, sliced
10 thick strips of orange zest (no white pith)
3 bay leaves
Sterilize two 1.5 liter (23/4 pint) Kilner jars (preferably the French type with the hinged lid and orange rubber seal) by running them through the dishwasher on a hot cycle.
Wash the figs in cold water and place them in the two jars. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan with 500ml (18fl oz) of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes and then pour this mixture over the figs, dividing the spices and aromatics as far as possible between the two jars. The figs should be completely immersed and the jars should be very nearly full.
Seal the lids. Then cut some slits into several sheets of newspaper and place them, folded, on the bottom of a deep saucepan large enough to hold the two jars. Put the jars in the pan and pour in boiling water to come halfway up their sides. Then place the pan on a simmering heat for half an hour.
Take off the heat and allow to cool before refrigerating the jars. Check them the next day: the seals should be so tight that they are impossible to lift without using the hinge. The figs will keep very well for six months in the fridge.
BRUSCHETTA WITH FRESH RICOTTA, FIGS, AND TOASTED SAGE
3 sprigs fresh sage
1 recipe grilled or toasted bruschetta (see above)
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
4 fresh figs, thickly sliced
Olive oil (for sprinkling)
In a cast-iron skillet, toast the sage leaves, watching them carefully, until they begin to curl. Spread the bruschetta with ricotta, overlap 2 or 3 slices of fig on top of each, and sprinkle with oil. Garnish with the sage leaves. Serve at once.