It's that time of year again here in San Diego and our neighborhood fig trees are becoming heavy with these sweet fruits. This year I'm prepared and you will be too, with these 7 Hip, Simple, Fabulous™ no-cook ways to enjoy these sweet summer gems - Fresh Figs.
We often receive baskets, armloads and buckets-full of Fresh Figs from our friends, colleagues, clients and neighbors and similar to peaches - these fruits are delicate and best when picked ripe! We've even included all the useful details on what to look for in ripe figs, how to prepare fresh figs and the healthy, benefits of fresh figs.
Keep an eye out for our Eat Inspired Today™ Tips for special recommendations to make each of your meals Hip, Simple, Fabulous™!
FRESH FIG BASICS
Fresh figs are a bountiful late summer wonder. This delicate, sweet fruit tastes profoundly different from its dried version.
Fresh figs will soften if left at room temperature, but will not sweeten, so it’s best to seek out ripe ones or pick them fresh from a tree. Here in Southern California our neighbors often have more than enough to share and willingly allow us to visit and pick them when ripe.
RIPE FRESH FIGS
Fresh ripe figs feel tender, like a peach and slightly heavy for their size. The aroma of a ripe fig is sweet like honey. If figs are sticky or “runny” they are over-ripe.
Fresh ripe figs are perishable and easily bruise, so it’s best to eat them immediately. Handle gently and use whole – skin and crunchy seeds or drupes included – removing only the tough stem. If necessary, cover them and refrigerate for only a few days.
After enrolling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition™ I began to take a hard look at the ingredients I was using in each of my recipes. Part of my unique philosophy as a health coach and functional nutritionist is to empower you with the tools to not only choose WHAT foods to eat but to understand exactly WHY you are eating each of these foods.
Figs are an excellent example. Not only are figs a delicious, subtly sweet, often local fruit, they are also a wonderful source of fiber and minerals, including iron, potassium and calcium. Figs also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health and brain function, and the antioxidant lutein, which supports eye health and improves vision. Figs are often recommended for their powerful ability to lower cholesterol and improve blood pressure.
I hope that you delight in this sampling of our favorite no-cook Fresh Fig recipes as much as we did while gathering them together!
1. Fresh Fig and Orange Salad
One of my personal favorites, this is a delicious recipe that my 11-year-old daughter created during a summer afternoon in our kitchen. Served in the orange “bowl” halves these mae a festive, light summer dish.
Eat Inspired Today Tip: Perfect for a light lunchtime treat. Make individual serving “bowls” from each orange half and serve for a dinner party, picnic, potluck, or party snack!
Makes two “bowls”
- 1 Fresh Fig, rinsed
- 1 Orange
- 3 Basil Leaves
- Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
- Cut the orange in half. Slice around the outer flesh and each wedge-shaped slice.
- Scoop out insides and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Finely chop the fig. Add to bowl.
- Toss with a splash (approx. 1 teaspoon) balsamic vinegar to taste.
- Split the fig mixture between the two “bowls”
- Finely chop basil.
- Sprinkle each “bowl” with chopped basil.
2. Fresh Fig and Honey Mint Bites
- 8 Fresh Figs
- 1/3 cup Goat Cheese
- 1/3 cup Raw Honey
- 8 small Sprigs Fresh Mint
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste (optional)
- Remove stems and cut figs lengthwise.
- Arrange figs, cut-side up, on your plate or serving dish.
- Firmly press the back of a measuring teaspoon into the center of each sliced fig. This creates a slight hollow in each fig bite in which you will place the cheese.
- Add approximately a teaspoon-full of cheese to the center of each sliced fig.
- Top with a few drops of honey and garnish with fresh mint sprigs and serve immediately.
3. Summer Salad with Fresh Figs
- 4-6 Fresh Figs, rinsed, stems removed and sliced
- A few cups Fresh Salad Greens
- 1 cup Bacon or Pancetta, chopped (optional)
- Simple Balsamic Dressing (see this recipe)
- Add sliced fresh figs and chopped, cooked bacon (or sub pancetta) to a simpletossed green salad.
- Serve with a Simple Balsamic Dressing.
4. Fresh Fig Crostini
- 4-6 Fresh Figs, rinsed, stems removed, finely chopped
- 1-2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar, to taste
- Gluten-free baguette or bread slices (we used Against the Grain or Udi’s Omega Flax and Fiber)
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- Finely chop figs and toss with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.
- Set aside and allow flavors to mingle.
- Cut gluten-free baguette into slices and toast or simply toast slices of a seeded, gluten-free bread, such as Udi’s Omega flax and fiber.
- If using bread slices, cut into thin strips after toasting.
- Top toasts with fig mixture and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste.
5. Sweet or Savory Fresh Fig Spread
Fresh figs make a delicious base for each of these sweet and savory spreads. Pair with crackers, bread or fruit for a light and refreshing snack with your afternoon tea or a super simple appetizer.
- 4-6 Fresh Figs (or more), rinsed, stems removed and chopped
- Toast, crackers, bread, apple slices
- SWEET: Honey AND cinnamon, to taste
- Or SAVORY: Balsamic vinegar AND olive oil, 1-2 olives, finely chopped, to taste (optional)
- The point is to create a quick paste. Add liquids slowly and taste often to create a think, spreadable and tasty paste. Add a bit of warm water if spread is too thick.
- Blend with honey and cinnamon for a quick sweet spread OR Blend with balsamic, oil and olives (optional) for a savory quick spread.
- Serve on toast, crackers, bread, apple slices or whatever you have on hand.
6. Fresh Figs Stuffed with Coconut Yogurt and Spiced Honey*
- 12 Fresh Figs, rinsed, stems removed
- 1/4 cup Coconut Yogurt, plain or vanilla (we used So Delicious)
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon Ground Allspice
- Remove stem by cutting a small, flat base onto top of each fig.
- From the top, slice each fig into quarters, stopping 1/2 inch from top to leave fig intact.
- Using the back of a small teaspoon, gently press each fig open. Set aside.
- Combine honey and spices in small pitcher, gravy dish or small bowl. Stir to blend.
- Arrange figs on serving plate. Spoon 1 teaspoon yogurt into center of each fig.
- Drizzle with spiced honey. ENJOY!
*Photo on it's way!
7. Fresh Figs and Yogurt Parfait
Paired with yogurt, fresh figs make a delicious, subtly sweet breakfast or simple snack. Chill your yogurt mixture for 8-24 hours before adding the nuts and serving.
Eat Inspired Today Tip: Double the recipe and dress this one up for dessert. To add extra flavor or to serve as a lovely, light dessert treat, top with lemon or orange zest.
Makes 2-4 small servings
- 2 Fresh Figs, rinsed, stems removed and chopped
- 8 ounces Yogurt (we used So Delicious Coconut, Plain)
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 tablespoon Nuts, walnuts, chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoon Honey
- Zest of 1 Lemon or half an Orange
- In a small bowl, stir together yogurt and vanilla.
- Fold in figs. (Optional - chill yogurt mixture before next step)
- Spoon yogurt mixture into small dishes.
- Sprinkle with nuts (optional) and drizzle with honey.
- Optional: Using a zester or small peeler, hold your lemon or orange half over each yogurt and zest a bit a rind over each serving.
- Enjoy immediately!