Figs love the Mediterranean climate in Italy. You can find these yummy fruits in family gardens all over Italy ripening from September – October. Depending on the variety they are available from summer thru fall.
They date back all the way to ancient times. They are even mentioned in the Bible. In ancient Rome, the fig was deemed sacred and it was thought to be a bad omen if a tree perished. It was said that every house had one and they have been found for centuries in Tuscany.
Okay like we need any more reasons to visit Italy!!!! Italians have loads of traditions as I discovered. Figs are the fruit of the Ficus tree and some believe it is good luck to have a fig tree in your yard. They are a great source of fiber and full of vitamins and minerals. They can add a burst of sweetness to all kinds of dishes with their soft, chewy texture.
Sadly, where I live they cannot over-winter outside and I just don’t have enough room to bring a tree inside. Once a fig ripens they don’t last very long and perish pretty quickly. Select figs with nice deep color with no bruises and with a sweet fragrance. Do not wash them and store them in your refrigerator for maybe two days max .
Here are some ideas on how to use them.
I love figs with some prosciutto, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar or honey. This is a recipe by Ina Garten that I adapted by adding balsamic vinegar at the end called Roasted Figs with Prosciutto which you can find on Food Network. This is a lovely quick appetizer.
20 large fresh ripe figs (about 1 1/4 pounds)
20 thin slices Italian prosciutto (8 ounces)
Good olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Snip the hard stems off the figs and cut the figs in half lengthwise through the stem. With a small sharp knife, cut the prosciutto in half lengthwise into inch-wide strips. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around the center of each fig half, with the ends overlapping. Brush with olive oil and arrange cut-side up on a sheet pan.
- Roast the figs for 10 minutes, until the prosciutto is a little crisp and the figs are warmed through. Serve warm.
- Level: Easy
- Total: 30 min
- Active: 20 min
- Yield: 10 servings
How about on a pizza or crostini?
Simple prep is best to keep that luscious flavor and texture.
Have you tried fig jam? I love it on cheddar cheese or apples.
Try a panini maybe with ham, cheese and fig jam. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I made this Flatbread before my figs were gonzo! Yum!
Fig Goat Cheese Flatbread
Makes 1-12-inch flatbread (I used store bought pizza dough)
For dough 2/3 cup warm water 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon olive oil plus more for bowl 1-1/2 cups bread flour plus more for work surface 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
10-12 fresh figs, sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 handful baby arugula
1 teaspoon minced chives
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the yeast mixture and process until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface.
Place the dough directly on the grates and grill for 3 minutes with the lid closed until the crust has grill marks and has puffed up. Turn over the crust and grill for an additional 2 minutes. Remove the crust from the grill.
Brush with olive oil and arrange the figs in a single layer leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edge. Scatter the walnuts, goat cheese and arugula on top. Sprinkle with chives, sea salt and pepper before serving.
FIG, GOAT CHEESE & PANCETTA CROSTINI
By: Giada DeLaurentiis
2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot noir
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
6 dried Mission figs (about 4 ounces)
2 whole star anise
3 ounces pancetta, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 loaf country white bread or baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and then cut into shapes, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sliced fresh mint, for sprinkling
In a medium saucepan combine the wine, 2 tablespoons of the honey, the figs and star anise. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the figs are plump and tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the figs to a cutting board to cool for 5 minutes. Then cut the figs into 1/4-inch slices. Discard the anise and bring the liquid back up to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the mixture is thick and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer the syrup to a small bowl and cool to room temperature.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Place the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until the slices are crispy and brown, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool then roughly chop.
Brush the bread slices with the oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
In a medium bowl combine the goat cheese, lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon honey, the chopped mint and the salt. Spread 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture onto each crostini. Top with fig slices, pancetta crumbles and a sprinkle of sliced mint. Just before serving, drizzle with the reserved syrup.
Never be afraid to try new things! I have plenty of suggestions for your Italy trip planning in my blogs. Here is a link to Bologna, the food capital of the world!