Fabulous FigsTuesday, June 5, 2012
When you hear fig you may think of a dried fig or even a fig-filled cookie, but have you tried a fresh one? They’re so delish! Whether dried or fresh, this fruit can be a great addition to a healthy diet. With fresh fig season upon us, now is the perfect time to try this nutritional superstar.
Figs were originally introduced into the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese missionaries in the 1500’s. In the 1700’s they were planted in various places throughout California including San Diego, Ventura and Sonoma.
While dried figs can be enjoyed year round, fresh fig season begins mid-May and lasts through December, depending on the variety. California is the only state in the U.S. that grows them.
There are four common varieties grown in California:
- Black Mission were planted by the Spanish missionaries as they traveled north from Mexico along the California coast. It has a blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh.
- Kadota has a thick-skin which is a gorgeous amber color when ripe. It’s practically seedless and is typically used for canning and preserving.
- Calimyrna has a nut-like flavor, greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh.
- Adriatic has a golden color when dried. It’s commonly used in fig bars and pastes due to its beautiful hue.
One medium fig has around 75 calories and is loaded with potassium and fiber; two nutrients the average American doesn’t get enough of. The potassium in figs can help lower blood pressure and the fiber can help aid in weight loss, by keeping you fuller longer. Figs are also one of the few fruits that contain calcium, which is an essential mineral for healthy bones. Dried figs can also be a good way to boost your iron intake, a mineral which some folks fall short on.
How To Enjoy Figs
- Top oatmeal or yogurt with fresh or dried figs.
- Use on fresh salads – try spinach, goat cheese and figs.
- Bite into a fresh fig as a snack or for dessert.
- Add dried figs to homemade trail mix.
- Toss dried figs into the batter when baking cookies and muffins.
- Drizzle fresh figs with a little agave nectar and chopped walnuts for an after dinner treat.
Purchasing & Storage Tips
When purchasing fresh figs, look for a rich, deep color and plump (not mushy) texture. Give them a whiff and choose those with a sweet, not sour smell. To store, place in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Avoid wrapping or crushing them since they’re very delicate. Freeze fresh figs in a sealed container for up to 6 months, then you can enjoy them during the off-season. Sealed dried figs can be kept for up to a month, but once opened they should be refrigerated.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 shallots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- Salt and black pepper; to taste
- Prepared dough for 2 small (8- or 9-inch) pizzas*
- 8 ounces fresh California Mission figs, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 8 ounces fresh California Calimyrna figs, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Olive oil; as needed
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper; to taste
- 1 cup Caramelized Shallots (Recipe above)
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 10 slices prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan, grated or shaved
- Sprigs of arugula; for garnish
For Caramelized Shallots, heat butter in large saucepan and cook shallots until caramelized. Stir in molasses and vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until all liquid has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
For Pizza, preheat pizza stone or heavy baking pan in 500°F oven for 30 minutes or more. Meanwhile, spread figs on sheet pan or tray; drizzle with olive oil and honey, then season with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Then, on 12×12-inch piece of parchment paper with lightly floured rolling pin, roll pizza dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Brush generously with olive oil and spread Caramelized Shallots over all. Arrange sliced figs about 1/2-inch apart on top of shallots and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle goat cheese evenly over all. Transfer pizza to preheated stone and bake, 10 to 15 minutes at 500°F or until cheese and edge of crust are lightly browned. Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board; let stand and cool slightly. Then, cut into wedges, and garnish with sliced prosciutto, Parmesan and arugula.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Calories 300 (37% from Fat); Total Fat13g; Saturated Fat 4.5g; Mono Fat 2g; Poly Fat <1g; Trans Fat -0-g; Cholesterol 20mg; Sodium 450mg; Potassium 92mg; Carbohydrate 39g; Sugar 11g; Dietary Fiber 3g; Protein 9g;
Daily Values:Vitamin A 10%; Vitamin C 6%; Calcium 8%; Iron 15%.
Photo and recipe courtesy of the California Fig Advisory Board.
TELL ME: What’s your favorite way to enjoy figs?Filed under Food Facts, Recipes | Comments: more