California Figs, 2011
(©California Fig Advisory Board)
California Fig Advisory Board CEO, Karla Stockli invited me to a lovely dinner at Rouge Tomate the other night. Here’s the menu, featuring the figgiest figs.
(©California Fig Advisory Board and Rouge Tomate)
I was only able to stay for half of the event as I had other events to attend but I found it really interesting to know more about figs. I’m a fig fan, both dried and fresh. I carry dried figs with me throughout the year as a quick, allergy-safe, super healthy snack; I carry a box of them when I travel as well. Dried figs are the base of my mom’s delicious Tzimmes for the Jewish New year Holiday’s in the fall (here’s just one example of a tzimmes recipe from About.com) and something we all look forward to every year.
However, fresh figs: wow. They are seriously tops in the sexy fruit department and so deliciously, totally different than dried. Fresh fig season is happening right now. Run don’t walk whilst these beauties are in your market. The California Fig Advisory Board website has some recipes (not allergen-free but very easily adaptable) like this one below. (Tip: I’d sub the blue cheese for goat and ditch the pine nuts and there you have it - fresh fig salad perfection.)
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Arugula Salad
©California Fig Advisory Board
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh California figs
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons sherry, raspberry or white balsamic vinegar
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper; to taste
• 8 fresh, small California figs
• 2 ounces top quality blue cheese, divided - SUB SPANISH MANCHEGO or FRENCH GOAT
• 8 strips prosciutto (about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide)
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 4 cups baby arugula
• 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted -OPTIONAL
Combine figs, olive oil, vinegar and garlic in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Divide and arrange arugula on 4 salad plates. Starting at stem end, cut figs in half nearly through but leaving blossom end in tact. Press 1/2 tablespoon cheese in center of each and press halves together. Wrap each fig with prosciutto and secure with toothpicks. Grill over high heat, 5 minutes, turning frequently, and basting with balsamic vinegar. As soon as prosciutto is crisp, remove from grill and arrange 2 figs on each plate. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and pine nuts.
Serve dressing in small bowl to drizzle on.
Some figgy fun facts ©California Fig Advisory Board:
In California, there are five primary varieties of figs.
• Black Mission (dried/fresh)
• Calimyrna (dried/fresh)
• Kadota (dried/fresh)
• Brown Turkey (fresh)
• Sierra Figs (fresh)
California Figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber. Just 3 to 5 – dried or fresh – provide 5 grams of dietary fiber or 20% of the Daily Value.
Figs were regarded with such esteem that laws were created forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Sychophant derives from the Greek word (derived by sykos, "fig", and φανης fanēs, "to show") meant one who informed against another for exporting figs or for stealing the fruit of the sacred fig trees. Hence, the word came to mean a person who tries to win favor by flattering.
If you have any question about fruit allergies, please see your local board certified allergist or a knowledgeable RD (eatright.org) about what is right for you. Meanwhile I have some fig swag in my kitchen right now and that’s what I’m having for an afternoon snack with some honey and yogurt – yum!
(©California Fig Advisory Board)