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Figs Figs Figs

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It's fig time and I thought I'd repost a collection of chowhound suggestions I put together last year.

· Cut the stem of the figs and gently open like a flower and put in bowl. If the figs are huge then cut in half. Second, hand tear one bundle of basil leaves. Third, cut up fresh mozzarella (salted please) into one inch cubes. Fourth, tear off shreds of good prosciutto. Fifth, mix up the salad with a dressing made from good olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, salt and pepper (all to your individual taste). It does not need a lot of dressing, but provides a heavenly array of flavors on the plate. This could have been dinner.

· Stem and cut figs in half lengthwise. Wrap in a half slice of Proscuitto (just to get a single layer of proscuitto), thread wrapped figs on a skewer. Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and grill on low heat, just to heat it through.

· For dessert, cut fig in half again, and serve with fresh raspberries and honey sweetened mascarpone. A sprinkle of cinnamon in the mascarpone works.

· Slice figs and serve with premium coffee ice cream with a drizzle of sweetened espresso over it all.

· Spread half a fig with light Boursain cheese spread and topped it with a walnut. Lots a flavor and the nut stuck to the fig.

· A little cream cheese and a candied pecan on half a fig was good for a quick summer dessert.

· Halved and wrapped in thinly sliced pancetta, grilled, and served with bitter greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette with a little balsamico for an extra hit.

· Halve and bake them at 400 or 425 with honey and orange juice drizzled over. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or orange whipped cream.

· Homemade thin crust pizza with fig jam/preserves, cambonzola cheese and proscuitto - amazing!!! Throw the stone on the BBQ and have a pizza with all the summer pizza toppings - tomato, basil, grilled veggies, etc.

· Quarter figs, grill (or roast) them briefly, then push a small chunk of smoked fresh goat cheese into the fig and wrap with a bit of Serrano ham. The still-warm fig softens the ham slightly. For maximum eyes-rolling-back-in-head action, drizzle with a little real balsamico.

· Slice them in half. Put them in a toaster oven on dark for one or two cycles to roast them, make sure not to burn them. Use a vegetable grater to shave some Reggiano over them and make a Basalmic reduction and drizzle a little bit over them. Sweet, Sour, Salty, Nutty. Each bite is pure heaven. Serve them warm.

· Salad made with arugula and some water- or pepper-cress. Top with quartered figs, mild goat cheese and perhaps some toasted nuts. a drizzle of good balsamic and olive oil and you're set.

· Fig vodka: in a gallon jar, fill the bottom 1/4 or 1/5 of the jar with stemmed figs, and pour the vodka over. Let it hang out for a few months.

· Make a fig-balsamic syrup. Simmer a bottle of good (not "special") balsamic (Fino) with several diced figs. Let it get slightly syrupy. strain to remove the seeds and rebottle - you can use this over vanilla ice cream and it's divine.

· Take a good crusty roll and put sliced figs, prosciutto, fontina cheese, arugula and a light drizzle of olive oil & balsamic.

· If in the mood for something sweet, try slicing the figs in half, dusting the tops with a small amount of sugar and putting them under the broiler for a few minutes. The caramelized fig flavor is amazing and you'll usually get a bit of fig "juice" that releases from the fruit and collects in the center of the fig half.

· Make a slightly tart raspberry coulis and place it at the bottom of a shallow bowl, top with a dollop of creme fraiche and some figs sautéed in a bit of butter and brown sugar so they were a bit caramelized.

Fig/Rhubarb Jam

1 lb finely cut unpeeled rhubarb
1/4 lb chopped, stemmed figs
3 tablespoon lemon juice

Cover with 1 lb sugar and let stand for 24 hours. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until thickened.

Fig Chutney

2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar 1/2 pound light brown sugar 1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, 1/4 lemon, zested, 1/2 cinnamon stick 1 3/4 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 1 1/4 pounds firm, slightly under ripe fresh figs, rinsed, stems removed and halved

In a large saucepan combine the vinegar, sugar, onion, ginger, mustard seeds, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, salt, allspice, and cloves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by 2/3, forming a thick syrup. Add the figs and cook gently until the figs are very soft and beginning to fall apart and most of the liquid they've given off has evaporated, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the chutney to a non-reactive container and allow to come to room temperature before serving. The chutney may be made up to 3 weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. (Alternately, hot chutney may be ladled into hot sterilized canning jars and processed in a hot-water bath according to manufacturer's directions.)

Fig and Gorgonzola Quesadillas

I used dried figs but I don't see why fresh would not work as well. Just spread equal amounts of the cheese and chopped figs atop one tortilla and top with another. Brush both sides with a bit of olive oil. Grill over direct heat on both sides just briefly to get grill marks, move away from coals shut lid and heat about 2 to 3 minutes.

Roast figs with parma ham and rocket (serves six as a starter)
Starters do not come much simpler than this. Excellent dinner party fare: foolproof, even for large numbers, and extremely popular.
12 figs, not overripe
12 slices parma ham
500g (1lb 2oz) rocket leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
Wrap each fig in a slice of the ham so that it is completely enclosed, and set in an ovenproof dish. Place in a preheated very hot oven (240°C/475°F/gas mark 9) and roast for 8-10 minutes. The ham should be crisp and the fig bursting with juice inside. Dress the rocket with the olive oil and lemon juice - no further seasoning - and arrange in a pile on six plates. Place two figs on each heap and serve as is.

Oakleaf, fig and goat's cheese salad (serves six as a starter)
While there is nothing particularly autumnal about oakleaf (apart from its appearance) that lovely delicate lettuce with deep red leaves (that can be green rather than red, as it happens) and pale yellow hearts combines beautifully with both figs and cheese.
18 very thin slices of stale baguette or ciabatta
100g (31/2oz) semi-soft goat's cheese
1 tbsp double cream
6 figs
2 heads oakleaf lettuce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp milled black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Toast the bread under a hot grill. Mash the goat's cheese with the cream to form a smooth paste and spread this on the croutons. Peel and quarter the figs. Discard any wilted outer leaves of the salad and separate the rest into bite size pieces. Wash tenderly and dry thoroughly. Dissolve the mustard and salt in the vinegar, add the pepper then whisk in the olive oil. Assemble all the ingredients in a salad bowl, croutons on top, pour over the vinaigrette and serve.

Baked figs with feta and mint (serves six as a starter, dessert or accompaniment)
6 figs
1 orange
50ml (2fl oz) red wine
25ml (1fl oz) red wine vinegar
100ml (4fl oz) olive oil
1/2 tsp coarsely milled black pepper
100g (4oz) feta cheese
20 leaves of mint
Wash the figs and then cut them in half from head to toe (or stem to base) to create a heart shape. Place these halves with the cut side uppermost in an ovenproof dish good-looking enough to bring to the table. Make a marinade with the juice of the orange, the red wine, the vinegar, the olive oil and the pepper, whisking them together very well and then spooning this mixture over each of the figs. Place the dish in a medium hot oven (220°C/425°F/gas mark 7) for 12 minutes, basting once with the marinade from the dish.

Cut the feta into 1cm (1/2in) cubes. Scatter these over the figs and return the dish to the oven for two or three minutes, or until the feta is half-melted on top of the figs. Coarsely chop the mint leaves and scatter over the figs. Baste the figs one more time with the juices from the tray and then let cool for half an hour before serving.

Spiced figs (makes three liters, or two large Kilner jars)

The thoughtful and well organized will doubtless prepare many jars of these to give to friends at Christmas. If you just want some spiced figs but do not want the bother (such as it is) of preserving jars, simply pour the pickling mixture over some figs in a bowl, cover them with a plate and refrigerate for one week. They are particularly good with cooked ham.

20 fresh figs, ripe but not bursting
500ml (18fl oz) cider vinegar
500g (1lb 2oz) light brown unrefined sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
6 cloves corns
1 cinnamon
20 pepperoni stick
1 red chili, sliced
10 thick strips of orange zest (no white pith)
3 bay leaves

Sterilize two 1.5 liter (23/4 pint) Kilner jars (preferably the French type with the hinged lid and orange rubber seal) by running them through the dishwasher on a hot cycle.

Wash the figs in cold water and place them in the two jars. Place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan with 500ml (18fl oz) of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes and then pour this mixture over the figs, dividing the spices and aromatics as far as possible between the two jars. The figs should be completely immersed and the jars should be very nearly full.

Seal the lids. Then cut some slits into several sheets of newspaper and place them, folded, on the bottom of a deep saucepan large enough to hold the two jars. Put the jars in the pan and pour in boiling water to come halfway up their sides. Then place the pan on a simmering heat for half an hour.

Take off the heat and allow to cool before refrigerating the jars. Check them the next day: the seals should be so tight that they are impossible to lift without using the hinge. The figs will keep very well for six months in the fridge.

3 sprigs fresh sage
1 recipe grilled or toasted bruschetta (see above)
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
4 fresh figs, thickly sliced
Olive oil (for sprinkling)

In a cast-iron skillet, toast the sage leaves, watching them carefully, until they begin to curl. Spread the bruschetta with ricotta, overlap 2 or 3 slices of fig on top of each, and sprinkle with oil. Garnish with the sage leaves. Serve at once.

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  1. Wow - thanks. That's an incredible list; I'm printing it now to keep around for when the figs arrive.

    Just a note - the caramelizing trick is a good use for a kitchen torch. They make a great addition to a fruit platter and taste amazing with a little yogurt.

    2 Replies
    1. re: curiousbaker

      I agree! Wow, thanks!!
      I was at the local (Sacramento) farmers market Sunday and a couple of venders had wonderful figs and I decided I needed to go home and find some of those old recipes. I too am printing this list up. Since the season just started the figs will be here for awhile. We have some great peaches comming in now too. I like having a small afternoon do with a light white wine and some unique bites. This will be perfect. Thanks again.


      1. re: curiousbaker

        Wonderful list. Thanks so much.

        While you mention creme fraiche in another context, my absolute favorite thing is a perfectly ripe fig cut in half and topped with creme fraiche.

        This year there's a wonderful dulce de leche type of goat cheese available and I'm thinking of drizzling a little of the caramel type of sauce over the figs.

        The SF Ferry Plaza farmers market just emailed two recipes that I'm going to try because they sound so good. The first is a variation of your fig and basil idea. I'll leave the onions out of this and use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine.

        Fresh Fig and Green Tomato Salad with Basil

        This recipe for Figs in Port Syrup which sautees fresh figs in butter and combines port, butter and honey with figs sounds so good too.

      2. I think you win the Most Organized Chowhound award. Thanks a zillion! You've inspired me to do something other than eat figs raw, by the spoonful.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nooodles

          If you like fig preserves ,try adding a package of strawberry jello to them just before canning .It makes great strawberry preserves!!! I LOVE IT AND DON'T LIKE FIGS!

        2. Thank you. I'll add my favorite way to eat fresh figs - sliced on crostini spread with soft goat cheese and topped with lemon basil.

          I just picked the remains of our first fig crop - most seriously abused by birds - and have them in the dehydrator now. Will save your list for September when it will be desperately needed!

          1. Last night we had fresh figs, along with Whole Foods Nicita Fig Cake with almonds, and Neal's Yard Cheddar. What a great texture treat! You can't have too many figs!

            1. Clafoutis made with figs is quite fine.

              1. Ellen,

                Thank you so much for the fabulous fig ideas. I am going to print them and save them. And you reminded me of how much my father loved his little fig tree in our So. Calif. back yard. Thanks for that, too.

                1. Great list! (glad to see mine on there!). I'll add the suggestion of cutting up figs, tossing in some raspberries, and eating with sweet mascarpone. MMmmmmm...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lala

                    Oops! I see that one's in there too... sorry...

                    Now I'm going to pass the original post around the office, and make people very very happy!

                  2. Yay! Thanks for all of the lovely fig recipes.

                    Adding my two favorites:

                    Halved and roasted in the oven, served warm with goat cheese or blue cheese and drizzled with honey.

                    Stuffed, along with blue cheese, ground fennel, and shallots, into a pork roast. Drizzle roast with olive oil and fig-infused balsamic vinegar before baking/grilling.

                    1. Printing! Printing! Printing! Thanks for sharing.

                      1. Enjoy, enjoy your figs, figs. In Chicago figs are $6 a pint right now.

                        1. Thanks for the ideas. A great little wine bar here in Phoenix makes a wonderful bruschetta with fig, marscapone and proscuitto. Yum.

                          1. Topping because it's fig season again.

                            Ideas for preserving that don't involve tons of added sugar? Can I freeze them as is, or should I cook them a bit first? (I've got a surplus of huge brown Turkey figs.)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: mlgb

                              Freezing as is works fine for me - and they keep well for several months. Do not wash them first, or if you do make sure they are dry before bagging them.

                              1. re: mlgb

                                I use orange juice to make fig preserves, and only a few tablespoons of brown sugar. You could probably get away with none, just the juice.

                                1. re: janeer

                                  That looks like it's worth a try! I'll try the breadmaker jam cycle. Although I probably won't have that pretty color. Thanks.

                              2. Many thanks for such an inspiring list. If you're in a region like our (Zone 7) and some years, the frost comes before the figs ripen, you can use the plumper green figs for chutney (picked before frost) and make a lovely condiment.

                                1. Aw man, I'm so depressed...the birds got all of my figs this year!!!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: QueenB

                                    Fantastic list; I do something similar to what was mentioned above-not sure it was there- X-cut the tops, stuff with some gorgonzola dolcelatte and bake, then drizzle with honey.

                                  2. David Lebovitz's ice cream book has a recipe for fig ice cream that's purple. I swear.

                                    NB* Thank you UCB library system, the Berkeley Free Library currently has 3 holds on 'Perfect Scoop'.

                                    1. Thanks Ellen! Great list (which I missed the first go 'round) We adore figs!
                                      I have been buying fresh figs for two weeks and my fav way is still the simplest:

                                      A platter that consists of:
                                      Fresh figs
                                      Whole dates
                                      Dark grapes
                                      Chunks of fresh coconut
                                      4 cheeses
                                      Red wine reduction to drizzle over all

                                      Makes for a wonderful light dinner or party platter.

                                      1. I have two big trees full of figs ominously ripening. Every year we do fig confiture with walnuts...a trick is to add a little walnut oil to the confiture.
                                        The classic salad is to cut the fig into a star and place a piece of goat cheese in the center and put under the broiler, then serve on a bed of lettuce with a light vinagrette.
                                        I have a recipe for a fig/chocolate tart...very simple and simpler if you have premade puff pastry tart crust...very common here in Europe but I think it's still a luxury item in the States.
                                        I have to thank you Ellen for this great resource of fig recipes....I am going to have more figs than ever this year....
                                        I eat my yoghurt witth fig confiture almost every day of the year.

                                        1. Similar to the idea of using cheese/ham, I just tried a few stuffed with some smoked yellowtail that was gifted to me. The fish had a buttery and just barely salty/smoky flavor that worked well with the figs.

                                          I don't really know what's going on with the crop this year but they are huge!

                                          1. OMG. I was thinking about this list yesterday. The computer I had this list on crashed. I can't believe it still lives here! Right now you can get wonderful fresh mission figs at Whole Foods, unless you're lucky enough to get them at a local market.

                                            1. Thanks for bringing this list back to the top. Lots of great ideas, but I can't believe one of my favorites isn't here: Wrap your figs (cut in half if they're large) with bacon, and bake at 400 until the bacon is crispy. Be sure to spoon some of the fabulous fig juice/bacon drippings over each fig as you serve them.

                                              Some folks skewer and grill these, but then you lose those lovely juices. When I'm doing a grilled dinner, I put the figs on the grill in an old pie plate instead, best of both worlds.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                Thank you! what a marvelous collection of fig ideas!

                                              2. I printed this out when it was first posted in '05, but it was so hard to find figs in NY then. Now they're everywhere (should even be in my garden but the tree didn't make it til the spring). Anyway on another fig thread I got a recipe for Fig Tapenade, which called for dry figs and prunes, but I used fresh figs and plums, I could live on this stuff. There was also dried apricots, as well as the usual ingredients, can't seem to find it here right now but I have it written down somewhere. Big hit on Labor Day.