It took me quite a while to really get into figs. I have zero claim to any sort of Asian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean heritage and I didn’t even realise my mother had a fig tree until she mentioned she was having it removed from the yard. I suppose I always assumed figs were an acquired taste, an ‘adult’ taste. It turns out, I’m a nut and figs are delicious. The tricky thing about figs is that they are very delicate and do not travel well. Luckily, the Lower Mainland has a climate that supports the fruit so it doesn’t have to go far to get to your table. And if you don’t appreciate the figs growing in your yard, let the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project harvest them and share them within the community. A large, raw fig (approximately 64g) has a mere 47 calories and is packed with calcium and fibre[i].
Fig salads are simple. Wash your figs, slice them into quarters, sixths or whatever makes you happy then make the big decision of whether to serve them cooked or raw. If you want to mastermind a roast fig salad, place the figs skin side down on a baking sheet, drizzle the tops with honey, sprinkle with salt and pepper and smear with a bit of butter. Roast at 400 F for 10 to 12 minutes. Sweet, roast figs are often served with prosciutto or other thinly sliced cured ham. If you prefer to use your fresh figs raw, wash, slice, choose some greens and a creamy goat’s cheese then build your salad. Dress it simply with oil (olive, grapeseed or walnut) and a light vinegar (use a third as much vinegar as oil).
Now let’s talk about dessert. I know you were waiting for it.
RASPBERRY AND FIG GRATIN[ii]
- 3 cups fresh raspberries
- 6 fresh figs, quartered
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- a small handful of mint sprigs
Set the oven to “broil”. Arrange the raspberries and figs in a 10-inch-diameter baking dish. Stir sour cream in a separate bowl until smooth and then spoon evenly into your baking dish over the fruit. Sprinkle all over with brown sugar. Broil close to heat source until brown sugar melts and bubbles (that would be about 4 minutes). Garnish with mint and serve warm to a thoroughly impressed (and hungry) small group of friends.
[i] SELF: Nutrition Data, 2011. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1884/2
[ii] Recipe adapted from Raspberry and Fig Gratin by Tarla Thiel for Bon Appétit, 1991 on Epicurious.com; http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/summer/cooknow_figs/recipes/food/views/Raspberry-and-Fig-Gratin-2380#ixzz1QdsjdE8o