If you follow along with me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you probably know by now that I went on a bit of a fig adventure recently. Up until this past month, the only figs I had eaten were dried black Mission Figs - usually as a quick little pre - run or pre - workout snack. However, my mother-in-law's love of these little fruits and the handful of delicious - looking recipes I have seen using these extremely photogenic creations, prompted me to branch and out and give them a try.
My plan was to try them in as many ways as possible - cooked, raw, fresh, dried, baked, boiled, you name it. I didn't get to try as many recipes as I would have liked, but given that these experiments were squeezed in-between work and volunteer work and family and friend events, I would say it's a good start. And, the funny thing is that now suddenly I see figs and fig recipes EVERYWHERE! They seem to be all over social media, in every magazine I pick up to flip through, and there was even a fresh fig tree right outside our door at the ranch this past Labor Day (you can imagine my excitement!). I certainly see more fig recipes in my future, but for now I want to take you through my first week of fig exploration. I'll take you through my thoughts here and hopefully give you ideas for how you can add figs to your recipes and include a few of the recipes I created along the way.
I started off the week simple with a FRESH FIG, PUMPKIN SEED & YOGURT PARFAIT by adding fresh figs to my morning plain Greek yogurt, adding a drizzle of honey and sprinkling with pumpkin seeds and some Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Cereal. The little bit of honey and the subtle sweetness from the figs were just enough to balance out the tartness of the plain Greek yogurt. And the cereal and pumpkin seeds added the crunch, fiber and a little healthy fat to help fill me up for the morning ( I cannot only have yogurt and fruit - it doesn't keep me full).
Next I used a few and far between free evening to the fullest and experimented with Fig Crostini a bazillion ways (I exaggerate, of course, but that is what it felt like). I mixed and matched cheeses and fresh herbs and honey and vinegars. Kyle was a champ this evening as he sat with me and taste-tested the many varieties of fig crostini concoctions. This was a humbling experience because there were absolutely some recipe fails. Not good. At all. BUT there were also some wins that I will certainly be making again - and that's what matters right?? Plus, in my opinion, you have to have some fails in order to move forward. If you know it's bad, you're not going to do it again. I feel like so many of us get so worried about failing that we never try cooking ANYTHING. But that's how we learn - in cooking and in life I guess. You try, sometimes you fail, you learn from the failures and then you move forward trying a different method. So, among the many recipes tested, this evening's successes, that will appear at future parties and easy nights at home, include a Fig, Arugula & Goat Cheese Crostini, a Fig & Caramelized Onion Crostini, and a Roasted Fig & Thyme Crostini.
To Make These Three Crostini You Will Need:
- One 5 oz. container of goat cheese
- 1 small red onion
- Balsamic vinegar
- Fresh arugula
- Fresh black figs, sliced about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick
- Fresh thyme
- 1 whole - wheat baguette, sliced into 1/4 - inch slices and toasted
- Olive oil
The only cooking I really did here was CARAMELIZING THE RED ONION and that was the longest part of the process. To do this I...
- Sliced the onion into half moons (about 1/4 -inch wide).
- Heated about 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium heat skillet.
- Add onion slices to the skillet and allow to brown and sweeten on medium-low to medium heat until brown and sweetened - about 30 to 40 minutes (low and slow cooking is the way to go here).
- Once, done, set aside to add to crostini.
Then I preheated the Broiler on HIGH so I could toast some of my crostini.
For the Fig, Arugula & Goat Cheese Crostini, I:
- Topped each crostini slice with about 2 teaspoons of soft goat cheese.
- Drizzled about 1/2 teaspoon of honey over the goat cheese.
- Place a pinch of fresh arugula on top of the honey (about 2 tablespoons maybe?)
- Finished it off with 2 - 3 fresh fig slices.
For the Fig & Caramelized Onion Crostini, I:
- Topped each crostini slice with about 2 teaspoons of soft goat cheese
- Topped with about 2 - 3 teaspoons caramelized onion
- Drizzled with about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
- Top with 2 to 3 slices of fresh fig.
For the Roasted Fig & Thyme Crostini I:
- Topped crostini with about 2 teaspoons of goat cheese.
- Drizzled about 1/2 teaspoon honey.
- Topped with 2 to 3 fresh fig slices.
- Topped with about 2 teaspoons fresh thyme.
- Broiled in the oven for about 3 minutes.
*Note: Of course, you can alter the amounts here depending on how much surface area you have on your crostini.
The next night I wanted more of a main dish (that would continue to stick with my super quick and simple requirements, of course) and I remembered the Apricot and Thyme Chicken recipe from on of my favorite cookbooks, The Yellow Table. I made a quick adjustment, trading out the apricot preserves for fig preserves, baked in the oven and brought out a delicious FIG & THYME BAKED CHICKEN. I will probably make this recipe a separate post b/c this one is getting lengthy but I hope you read it and give the recipe a try. It's SO quick and simple and delicious. OR you can clink the link to The Yellow Table above and trade out the apricot preserves for the fig. I bet apricot is super delicious too!
By the time Friday arrived I was pretty exhausted from the work week. Fridays are typically super simple dinners or meals out. A meal and movie were definitely in the cards and we still had fresh greens, figs, and various toppings in the fridge. Plus some remaining baguette from the crostini experimenting. Low on mental energy but stomaches grumbling we threw together remaining baked shredded chicken, fresh veggies and figs, topped with some crumbled feta and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And, b/c it's hard for either of us to be full on salad alone, I made each of us a slice of Italian Broiled Tomato & Mozzarella Toast.
To Make this FIG & FETA SALAD You'll Need:
- Fresh spinach leaves (about 2 - 3 cups per salad)
- Fresh figs (about 2 figs per salad, quartered)
- Crumbled feta cheese (about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons per salad)
- Raw pumpkin seeds (or toasted without salt)
- Rotisserie chicken (these included about 2 ounces per salad) - you can also used leftover baked or grilled chicken you may have from the week
- Diced tomatoes or bell pepper (I put tomatoes on this one, but next time I would leave those off and add diced yellow or orange bell pepper instead)
- Extra virgin olive oil (about 2 teaspoons per salad)
- Aged balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon per salad)
Throw all of the salad ingredients on the plate, toss to incorporate the olive oil and balsamic and enjoy! (Stay tuned for info on throwing together the Italian Broiled Tomato & Mozzarella Toast)
Whew! It was quite a week and that week was followed by a few more busy weeks, which is why I'm just getting this article posted. I hope this post inspires and gives you ideas on ways to use figs. I also hope it inspires you to branch out and try new recipes, regardless of if they turn out well or not. In my opinion a failed recipe is just one more step to a really great one :) So get figgy with it and enjoy!