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Celebrate fig season with salads, appetizers, desserts

It's fresh fig season and availability — and prices — are good. Two-for-one deals are cropping up so take advantage of this seasonal treat.

When buying fresh figs, look for firm fruit if you're not going to eat them right away — they'll ripen quickly. For immediate eating, choose softer figs.

To prepare figs, simply wash them and cut off the stem. Don't attempt to peel the skin or you'll take off most the fruit with it.

Generally, I like figs better raw than cooked, unless they are the basis of preserves. However, there are many recipes in which they are baked or stewed. My favorite way to eat figs is sliced raw and layered on a baguette with creamy Brie, salty prosciutto, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a mound of peppery arugula. I first had this sandwich years ago at Pane Rustica in Tampa and it's still one of my favorite taste memories. The sandwich is best once the figs get soft.

Other ways to use fresh figs:

In a salad. Toss sliced figs, tangy blue cheese and toasted pecans with baby greens and dress with a mustard vinaigrette.

As a snack. Wrap a fig half with thin slices of prosciutto or ham or stuff with mascarpone or cream cheese and a whole almond.

In a smoothie. Blend 4 large figs, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup ice, 2 tablespoons honey and the juice of 1 lemon for a refreshing pick-me-up.

For breakfast. Add diced fresh figs to your oatmeal or granola.

One thing is for certain, the fig season is fleeting. Enjoy them now.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>easy

Citrus, Fig and Prosciutto Salad

3 medium oranges

3 cups tightly packed torn romaine lettuce

3 cups tightly packed torn curly leaf lettuce

1 pound fresh figs, each cut into 4 wedges

4 ounces chopped, lean prosciutto

For vinaigrette:

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Peel oranges; cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice in half. Combine oranges, lettuces, figs and prosciutto in a large bowl; toss gently.

Combine orange juice and remaining vinaigrette ingredients in a jar. Cover jar tightly and shake vigorously. Drizzle orange juice mixture over salad, and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate leftover dressing and use within

1 week.

Serves 4.

Source: California Fig Advisory Board

>>easy

Caramel-Drizzled Figs and Ice Cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pint premium vanilla ice cream

12 fresh California figs, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise

Dissolve sugar in water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Set over high heat; wash down sides of pan with pastry brush. Cook, without stirring, until an amber-colored caramel forms, 8 to 10 minutes, swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat. Carefully stir in cream. Reheat until smooth. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well. Remove from heat. Let stand until cool. Scoop ice cream into serving bowls and arrange figs on top. Drizzle with sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: California Fig Advisory Board

Celebrate fig season with salads, appetizers, desserts 08/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 7:25pm]

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