Fabulous Figs!
July 27, 2004 8:56 PM   Subscribe

figfilter: I've got figs ripening out front, and often hear of the wonders of the fig in food. Where do I get started?

How do I know if they're ripe?
How do I protect the not quite ripe ones from birds?
How do I cook them? (Grill suggestions)?
Any thing special for this species (and how can I tell which they are)?
Does anybody like the taste of them raw?

posted by daver to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Delicious raw.Soft to touch & purple colour deepens when ripe.
posted by johnny7 at 9:15 PM on July 27, 2004

More info
posted by johnny7 at 9:18 PM on July 27, 2004

Response by poster: Mine appear to be green when ripe, if soft flesh is any indicator.
posted by daver at 9:26 PM on July 27, 2004

My Dad grows figs which are yellow when ripe, as well as the green/purple variety. Softness is the best guide.

But to be honest, your figs are ripe the day after the birds have eaten them.

Dad's back yard looks like the aliens have visited because he laboriously climbs a ladder and wraps ripening figs in foil to keep the birds away.

I love them raw. Be warned, they have a ... loosening effect once you get past 4 or 5.

Locally, FIGJAM is an acronym for "Fuck I'm Good - Just Ask Me".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:03 PM on July 27, 2004

Response by poster: Sorry: one more Q. Best Recipe?
posted by daver at 10:06 PM on July 27, 2004

I absolutely adore them raw, but if you prefer them cooked, this recipe is pretty tasty.
posted by Acetylene at 10:17 PM on July 27, 2004

As a variation on the above recipe, I saw an episode of Queer Eye sometime recently where they took a (pitted) fig, shoved some goat cheese in it, wrapped it in bacon, and stuck a tootpick through it. It looked divine and way simple to prepare.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:20 PM on July 27, 2004

Very tasty cut in half and eaten raw with a good blue cheese. Yummmm.
posted by lobakgo at 10:48 PM on July 27, 2004

I've cooked them down in a little olive oil, white wine and orange juice (pinch or two of salt), 'til thick and syrupy. Then combined them with some carmelized onions or shallots (a little garlic and crushed red pepper flakes never hurts). Spread it on pizza dough (doesn't need much) and bake it. For the last minute or so, throw on some big wide curls of fresh parmesan and serve as an appetizer of sorts. S'goood.
posted by Witty at 1:35 AM on July 28, 2004

Let the mixture cool and tighten up (you can do it ahead of time really). It's easier to spread.
posted by Witty at 1:37 AM on July 28, 2004

Figs and prosciutto crudo, either by itself or as a sandwich. Yum. Pizza bianca is my preferred bread for the sandwich, but any type should do.
posted by romakimmy at 4:58 AM on July 28, 2004

Don't forget to dry a few and use them for filling in cookies and bars, a la Fig Newtons. My wife makes some fig cookies from the "Baking With Julia" cookbook that are incredible.
posted by briank at 5:44 AM on July 28, 2004

Fig and Almond Tart
For the crust:
Softened butter for greasing pan
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups, plus 1 tablespoon, unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground unblanched almonds

For the filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raw full-flavored honey, like lavender
1 tablespoon superfine flour, like Wondra
1 1/2 pounds fresh figs, halved lengthwise (don't peel)
Confectioners' sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter sides and bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan and set aside.

2. For the crust: In a large bowl combine melted butter and sugar and blend with a wooden spoon. Add extracts, salt and flour and stir to form a soft, cookielike dough. Do not let it form into a ball. Transfer the dough to the center of the tart pan. Using your fingers, press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides. (It will be quite thin.) If using a springform pan, press the dough 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle almonds on the crust.

3. For the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the cream, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour. Starting just inside the edge of the tart shell, neatly overlap the figs, cut side up, at a slight angle. Make two or three concentric circles, working toward the center, and fill the center with the remaining figs.

4. Rewhisk the cream mixture and pour evenly over the fruit. Place the tart in the center of the oven with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake until the filling is firm and the pastry a deep golden brown, about 50 or 60 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Yield: 8 servings.

(yes, a tart pan differs from a pie pan)
posted by crush-onastick at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2004

How can you pit a fig? Figs have no pits.

Anyhow, here's a recipe: halve figs, and put some walnut pieces, a bit of feta cheese, and some honey on them. Toast them for, oh, 5 minutes. Sounds weird but very tasty.
posted by adamrice at 7:29 AM on July 28, 2004 [3 favorites]

Or try brie instead of feta. It's good with the sweetness of the honey and figs..
posted by gokart4xmas at 7:54 AM on July 28, 2004

Raw figs are also excellent with high-quality balsamic vinegar. And certainly best with a dry, blue/moldy cheese or a wet, buttery brie. Try them first raw in a simple salad (organic greens and baby spinach) with the balsamic, to get familiar with the taste. I think raw figs are better than cooked, personally.
posted by naxosaxur at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2004

there's a really great recipe for a fig/mint/pancetta/creme fraiche salad in this month's "Cooking Light" magazine. I'd post the recipe but I'm at work and can't access the Cooking Light website.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2004

- poach them in port, then eat over ice cream or alone
- grill them, then as mr rice suggests, drizzle with honey & add cheese (i prefer goat to feta for this)
- stuff them with a walnut & a tiny bit of blue cheese
posted by judith at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2004

How can you pit a fig? Figs have no pits.

Um, maybe it was a date...

It was brown, okay?
posted by Asparagirl at 11:12 AM on July 28, 2004

What you saw was probably a dried fig, Asparagirl.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:07 PM on July 28, 2004

Fig & grape marmalade (cook them slowly with honey and a little vinegar) is great with grilled crottins de chèvre (goats' cheese turds) and also with grilled duck breast. Yum!
posted by cbrody at 4:07 PM on July 28, 2004

An easy and delicious (and festive) breakfast, snack or casual dessert is to slice and mix the fresh fruit or fresh fruit combo of your choice into a bowl of plain yogurt (the best you can find - I like to use the very thick, strained kind), toss in some walnuts and drizzle with honey. Figs are great for this.

Grill suggestions? A nice fresh fig chutney would be great with grilled fish (a firm white-fleshed ocean variety would be best), grilled jumbo shrimp, or grilled scallops. Here's one recipe, but there are many, mostly all very easy. Here's a recipe from the Ritz Carlton for "Smoked Duck Breast with Green Fig Chutney".

Oh, and while you're at it, don't forget to bring us the figgy pudding.
posted by taz at 10:22 PM on July 28, 2004

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