Figuring out Fresh Figs
Abundantly fresh and sweet at the markets right now, when Prickle Hill dropped off my box of beautiful produce this week, I wondered what to do with the figs before I devoured them all on the spot.
Such a lovely fruit, the fig- the surprise of gently pressing on the deep purply green smoothness to yield a pair of heart shaped cups of tiny soft edible seeds shaded from the richest crimson to the creamiest pale pink, embedded in a mildly sweet and fragrant pulp.
The best option at the peak of the season is to simply press it apart and eat it as it is, savouring the gentle taste and texture.
But if you've been so happy to see these beautiful gems, bought up a pile and need to use them quickly, here are a couple of ways to further enjoy them; one recipe savoury and the other sweet. Enjoy, they don't last long!
Simple fig and anchovy salad:
This makes a good starter for dinner, or add a smashed soft boiled egg on the plate for a light and lovely lunch.
2-3 small ripe figs
1 salted anchovy fillet, wash and pat dry
3-4 thick slices of parmesan cheese, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon capers, pat dry
1 small handful of rocket leaves
extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
On a plate, halve the figs and assemble together.
In a little frypan, heat cooking oil and fry the dried capers for a couple of minutes until crisp.
If your anchovies are quite large, cut lengthways so you have a slim ribbon. Drape a piece over each fig half.
Assemble some sticks of parmesan over/around the figs.
Place a handful of rocket leaves on a side.
Drizzle the plate with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Here's a recipe I use as tried and true from the New Orleans chef John Besh. It is such a basic recipe, and the best way of serving this after a meal is to have the batter ready, and pop it in the heated oven when the meal is almost done. That way, the clafoutis is served at its best, straight out of the oven- puffy like a soufflé on top, but collapsing to a lovely custard with your favourite figs embedded in it, warmed and caramelized. A dollop of ice cream is indulgence, but most unnecessary, as the clafoutis is divine on its own.
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8-10 figs, halved
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and butter until the sugar is dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into a cast iron skillet or pie pan.
Now add the fig halves. Bake until the clafoutis is beautifully puffed and golden, 35–40 minutes. Serve immediately.
Notes: I added a teaspoon of lemon zest to the clafoutis, halved the figs, and plopped them into the batter before popping in the oven. Sprinkling a little brown sugar over the figs caramelizes them additionally.
I bake my clafoutis in a glass dish, sometimes in a skillet or a baking dish.