Figs were perhaps the original food to gain cult status, long before the avocado, the bunch of kale, the cauliflower, the turmeric. Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder reportedly called them “restorative.” These days, more than 1,200 species eat figs. Talk about popular!
If you’ve never had a ripe one, plush and delicate and juicy and sweet, we hope you chance upon one this year. Remember that you can eat these pretty raw, with a side of blue cheese and honey and bread, or cook them. They can add unctuousness to any course. Here are some ways we love to love figs. (If you scroll down, you can snag two gorgeous recipes from the book Newlywed Entertaining!)
It’s the time of year to remember that seared pork loves peaches. Plums and pluots can go with grilled chicken. And Seared Baby Lamb Chops with Fig-Balsamic Pan Sauce might just be the hearty, sweet-savory daydream you need in your life.
You don’t want fruit salad, but you also don’t want something ho-hum and savory, studded with shredded carrots from a bag. Perhaps you’re craving Mâche Salad with Figs and Pears. You’ll likely want a mandoline, all the better to keep slices of apples and pears of equal slender width. There’s something about that presentation that really makes it look like you stepped into a Parisian bistro, especially when toasted hazelnuts, mâche and crumbled feta are in the mix.
Lemon, orange zest, thyme, and a delicate glaze add elegance and looks to this Fig & Goat Cheese Tart. We love that if you’re pinched for time, you can absolutely swap in storebought puff pastry instead of making your own dough from scratch!
Figs love cured pork. Love it! As is true of its buddy Devils on Horseback (aka dates wrapped in bacon), Grilled Figs with Dry Jack and Prosciutto just sing. Swap out the dry Jack for Parmigiano-Reggiano, or add a simple green salad to make this a meal. Not only does the combo work, it works like crazy. (Make twice as many as you think folks will want!)
Flan is lovely in almost every incarnation, but forgive us for occasionally wanting something… more. More texture; more flavor. Caramelized Fig Flan delivers, featuring real vanilla bean, plenty of cream and caramelized figs. You’ll want a nonstick cake pan so you can flip it easily, turning these sweet beauties into the best “topping” of all time.
Fresh Fig, Goat Cheese & Mint Flatbread
Peak season for figs generally stretches from midsummer to early fall. Black Mission is the most common variety, but other types, such as Brown Turkey or the yellowish-green Kadota, will also work in this enticing recipe. Pomegranate seeds add extra color, flavor, and crunch.
1 lb (500 g) purchased pizza dough
Olive oil for brushing
FOR THE HONEY-BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1½–2 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz (180 g) goat cheese
1 pint (10 oz/315 g) fresh figs, halved
¼ cup (1¼ oz/35 g) pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves and oregano leaves for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Honey for drizzling
Place the homemade or purchased dough on a lightly floured work surface and press flat to release excess air.
(If the dough has risen in the refrigerator, cover with a kitchen towel and bring to room temperature before continuing.)
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Press and stretch the dough into a rough oval about 10 by 20 inches (25 by 50 cm). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and brush liberally with olive oil. Bake for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the honey-balsamic vinaigrette: In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly add the oil until emulsified. Set aside.
Crumble the goat cheese over the flatbread, then arrange the figs evenly over the top. Continue to bake until the flatbread is golden, 6–8 minutes longer.
Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the flatbread, then garnish with mint and oregano leaves. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top, season to taste with salt and pepper, then finish with a drizzle of honey. Cut into pieces and serve. Serves 8 to 10.
Almond Tart with Fresh Figs & Cherries
Tart Pastry Dough
8 Tbsp (4 oz/125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ lb (250 g) almond paste, cut into pieces
¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (2 oz/60 g) all-purpose flour
6–8 ripe figs, stemmed and cut lengthwise into 4 slices
8–10 fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 Tbsp honey, warmed
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) sliced blanched almonds, toasted
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Prepare the tart pastry, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a round about 12 inches (33 cm) in diameter. Fold the dough round in half and carefully place it in a 9½-inch (24-cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, patting it firmly into the pan. Using kitchen scissors, trim the edge of the pastry, leaving about ½ inch (12 mm) extended over the pan rim. Fold the pastry edge inside the pan rim and press gently to extend the dough edge slightly above the rim to offset any shrinkage during baking. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Prick the pastry shell at even intervals with the tines of a fork. Bake until dry and just beginning to color, about 25 minutes, checking the pastry shell halfway through baking to pop any air bubbles with the fork, as needed. Let cool.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C). In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a whisk, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the almond paste, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour.
Spread the almond paste mixture evenly over the tart shell. Bake until just golden and the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, about 20 minutes.
Arrange the figs and cherries decoratively over the filling. Bake until golden and the center of the tart is firm, 20–25 minutes longer, checking the tart halfway through baking and covering the top loosely with aluminum foil if the filling begins to brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with the honey. Sprinkle with the almonds and let cool. Cut into wedges and serve.