Figs are the ultimate forbidden fruit. Enjoying a high profile in the Bible, Qur’an, Buddhist teachings as well as Greek mythology, the fig has long been used to symbolise fertility, femininity and wealth. And, after a resurgence in popularity in more recent years, the plump fig now appears in previously unchartered territory such as pizzas and salads.
The delicately pink flesh doesn’t keep for too long after picking, so figs are commonly preserved in syrup or dried for longevity, but we love them fresh as a versatile companion to meats, cheeses and spices.
Figs are one of the richest sources of calcium and fibre in plants. When dried, they’re also bursting with copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K, as well as all-important antioxidants.
Try these quick ideas:
• Pound fresh figs, olive oil, garlic and a few anchovy fillets (soaked in cold water to remove the salt) to make a delicious spread that’s perfect for warm ciabatta or bruschetta.
• Make a quick summer salad by combining fresh figs, sliced nectarines, fresh mint and wild rocket, and drizzling with a mixture of lime juice and olive oil.
• Sliced ripe figs, dollops of cream cheese, strips of Parma ham and a few torn basil leaves are the perfect topping for tagliatelli or toasted ciabatta.
• Roasted figs and butternut sprinkled with cinnamon, brown sugar and olive oil make a beautiful, delicious side dish that’s particularly good with pork chops.
• Caramelised figs are delicious served with ripe brie and pancakes or melba toast. Alternatively, match the ripe ones with camembert, gorgonzola, chevin, parmesan or gruyere.
• Fig jam is pure heaven and can be mixed with cream cheese and used as icing on a carrot or spice cake.
• Poach figs in liqueur and serve with crème fraîche and freshly cracked black pepper.
Image by Rowena