When you mention figs, many people hesitate to answer. There’s this pause, a long trying-to-find-the-most-non-offensive-thing-to-say pause. And then, there’s an “Eh … ”
Except most often, when you press those same hesitant people, they admit that their exposure to figs has been limited to a certain cookie and other baked goods. They haven’t experienced a delicate fresh fig, and they don’t know what a fig really tastes like.
So, I want to ask you all: Do you like figs? Have you had fresh ones?
Honestly, I fell into the hesitant category of people until a few years ago when I tasted fresh figs at an event held at Tom Colicchio’s Craftbar. A black mission fig was served with a piece of Olive Oil Cake and Rosemary Ice Cream … and though I was skeptical at first bite, I quickly discovered that I loved figs.
What are figs? Figs, pictured above, are a teardrop-shaped fruit with a smooth, edible skin, sweet flesh and tiny seeds in the middle. They can be eaten raw or used in fig recipes like fig jam, fig tarts and fig bars. I’ve also had figs on kabobs with Halloumi cheese – delish.
Figs are also rather good for you. According to the California Fig Advisory Board, figs are high in dietary fiber and have a good amount of calcium, iron and potassium too. They’re a total eat-without-guilt food.
The California Fig Advisory Board recently sent me a generous package of California Fresh Black Mission (top), Sierra (middle), and Brown Turkey (bottom) figs to experiment with in my kitchen.. Since this was the first time I used figs in my home cooking, I decided to ease in with a really simple fig recipe that I’ve been eying in a cookbook for years. This recipe with figs comes from Curtis Stone’s Cooking with Curtis.
Although the cookbook suggest this as an appetizer, it also makes a really easy lunch. It was the perfect re-introduction to figs. The salty prosciutto, sweet figs and sweet-tart balsamic with the crunchy grissini have all the right contrasting flavors and textures. It was amazing … and perfect for a quiet lunch while the kids were at school.
Prosciutto with Figs and Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted very slightly from Curtis Stone’s Cooking with Curtis cookbook
4 thin slices prosciutto
1-2 figs, quartered
Drape the prosciutto on a small luncheon plate. Place the quartered figs on and around the plate. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve with grissini.
Note: Balsamic glaze is a reduced balsamic vinegar that becomes syrupy. It can be purchased in some specialty food stores. Or you can make it at home by reducing balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
Disclosure: The California Fig Advisory Board provided me with figs for cooking and experimenting with. However, I wasn’t required to write about them and all opinions expressed are my own. I was not otherwise compensated for this post.