Many of us have probably enjoyed a Fig Newton at one time or another. But unless you have had the opportunity to taste a fresh fig, I think you would agree. Fresh figs are delicate, sweet and a special little fruit all their own.
My father-in-law has a beautiful fig tree in his back yard. It produces so many figs that need to be picked within each week. You may find that if you don’t pick them quick enough, a not so cute green bug (called a fig eater), will fly in and get compfy and start chomping down on your figs! With such a beautiful supply of these figs, plan on cooking them or drying them.
After picking some of these sweet delights, I was excited to enjoy them as much as possible. Knowing I was planning a pork tenderloin, I decided to prepare a fig glaze to serve with the pork. Simply cook desired amount of figs with sugar to taste. It turned out to be a delicious topping for the already succulent pork.
Fresh figs are naturally sweet and can be prepared as appetizers, or cooked and placed in muffins, spreads and chutneys. If you have fresh figs to enjoy, try some of our recipes we share with you today.
Fig Bran Muffins
1 c. chopped dry figs, plus 3 whole figs
1 ½ c All-Bran cereal
1 c. low fat milk
1 ½ c. whole wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
½ t. salt
¾ c. natural applesauce
½ c. honey
1/3 c. canola oil
2 T. unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Thinly slice the whole figs.
In a large bowl, combine cereal and milk. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk together the whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses and egg to cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Gently stir in chopped figs. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan and top each muffin with a fig slice. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 15 minutes. Loosen muffins with knife if necessary.
Fresh Fig Chutney
2 ½ c. red wine vinegar
½ lb. light brown sugar
1 onion, chopped
¼ c. chopped fresh ginger, or equivalent, dried
1 ½ t. yellow mustard seeds
¼ lemon, zested
½ stick cinnamon
1 ¾ t. salt
¼ t. ground allspice
1/8 t. ground cloves
1 ¼ lb. fresh figs, rinsed, stemmed and halved
In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except figs, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by 2/3 cup, forming a thick syrup. Add the figs and cook gently until the figs are soft and beginning to fall apart and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Transfer chutney to a non-reactive container and allow to come to room temperature before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or process hot chutney in canning jars according to manufacturing directions.
Stuffed and Wrapped Figs
12 figs, fresh or dried, washed and trimmed
6 thin slices prosciutto, halved crosswise into 12 short pieces
¼ lb. ricotta salata, cut into small triangles, 1 inch long
Mixed salad greens
Slice figs lengthwise (stem to end) halfway through, making a little pocket
Place one split fig onto each piece of prosciutto. Fill center of figs with pieces of ricotta salata.
Wrap the figs with the prosciutto, making a decorative flower. Place wrapped figs on a platter covered with salad greens.
Note: Ricotta salata is a variation that has been pressed, salted and dried. It’s hard and white with a mildly salty, nutty and milky favor. It can be shaved or grated over salads, pastas and vegetables dishes.