Tell the truth, how long did it take you to realize that figs are a fruit, not just the gooey inside of a “Fig Newton”? The first time I ever experienced a fig was in Italy. I have to admit that I didn’t know what it was. They served these beautiful, soft, green fruits on a platter after dinner and luckily my husband correctly identified them. He looked at me with amusement and said “Have you never had a real fig before?” I laughed and said not only had I never eaten one, but I had also never seen one! What can I say? I’m a child of the processed food 80’s and surprisingly even my hippie generation parents didn’t introduce me to figs.
It didn’t take long for me to love and truly appreciate figs the fruit, and Fall is the best time to include them in your favorite recipes. When ripe they practically melt in your mouth and are a great complimentary ingredient in salads and desserts which is especially nice given their impressive nutrients. Figs provide calcium for strong bones, fiber to promote weight loss and control blood sugar, and potassium to help maintain a good blood pressure. Like other fruits, figs are high in antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer.
Figs are especially delicious served with soft cheeses, I like to broil figs and spread them with a local herbed goat cheese for a wonderful appetizer. They are also great on pizzas and in dishes with grains like quinoa. Drizzle figs with vinegar or lemon juice for a sweet and sour flavor in recipes. Since figs are in season now, they are terrific paired with local farmers market tomatoes in a fresh salad! See one of my favorite fig-infused recipes below!
Fig, Arugula, Heirloom Tomato Salad
8 ounces of arugula
2 medium sized heirloom or ripe garden tomatoes, sliced into large sections
4 figs, quartered
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
Place arugula in a salad bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss lightly to combine
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Whisk all the ingredients together in a measuring cup until smooth. Drizzle over the salad and serve immediately.