Summer is fresh fig season. If you enjoy dried figs the rest of the year, go out of your way to enjoy them fresh.
Last month we wrote about how to use fresh figs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we’ve been reveling in them in the weeks since then, and want to send this reminder to everyone who has not yet jumped onto the fresh fig bandwagon*.
This week, a trove of Black Mission and Green Kadota figs arrived from California to our produce market. The Green Kadota figs we purchased are even sweeter than the Black Mission figs. Do your own taste test.
After enjoying them out of hand, focus on these easy, no-cook uses:
Fresh Green Kadota and Black Mission figs, shown with their dried versions. Photo courtesy California Figs. The website has recipes for everything from fig muffins to fig pizza.
RECIPE: FRESH FIG COMPOTE
Compote, the French word for mixture, is a dessert that dates to medieval Europe. It is made of a mixture of whole or sliced fruits, cooked in water with sugar and spices (cinnamon, clove, lemon or orange peel, vanilla). It can be further blended with grated coconut, ground almonds, or dried or candied fruits.
Our Nana grew up on compote, and we loved it too. There was always a compote when we visited, served warm (with ice cream or whipped cream) in cooler months and cold in the summer.
In medieval England compote was served as part of the last course of a feast; during the Renaissance it was served chilled at the end of dinner. Any fresh fruit could be used. Nana’s family recipe included rhubarb, sour cherry, apricot, nectarine and plum in the summer; apples, pears, quince, dried apricots, figs, raisins and walnuts in the fruit-challenged winter months.
Use the compote as a bread spread and a condiment with sweet or savory foods, in yogurt, with cheese, cheesecake, etc.
Ingredients For 2/3 Cup
If the figs are very sweet, you may need only a small amount of sweetener.
1. CUT the figs into quarters or smaller pieces as desired. Place the figs, sweetener, water and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat.
2. COOK for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the alcohol near the end (or if using dried fruits in the recipe, you can pre-soak them in the alcohol). To turn into a smooth sauce instead of a chunky dessert or topping…
3. PULSE, using an immersion blender or food processor, until the desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
TO DEGLAZE A PAN
Here’s how to deglaze a pan to make a sauce. Include a tablespoon of fig compote (you can also use fig jam).
To make a sauce without pan juices (terrific with roast duck or pork):
1. HEAT 1 cup of red wine in a saucepan, and simmer to reduce it by half. Add 1/2 cup of fig compote and a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
2. BRING to a simmer again, stirring for a few minutes to blend the ingredients. Remove from the heat and finish with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add a scant tablespoon of butter to smooth out the sauce.