Auriol Wyles figures out how to literally, not figuratively, make some fig-based goodness this season. Too many figging puns.
I am a firm believer in eating and shopping locally…
I am a firm believer in eating and shopping locally, and in doing so, cooking in season. Whilst there may be exceptions to every rule, it’s a sound starting point to cooking healthier, more sustainable and ethically better food. By shopping outside the faceless chains, you are supporting local people and businesses, and helping variety and character to flourish in your area.
I am however, going to cut short my rant, and break right out into a recipe section. This is through anxiety that the season is nearly over for some of my favourite fruits, and as they are on the way out, I have some recipes to make the most of their final days in our shops. So, without further ado, FIGS.
Eating seasonally is great, and has merits I will endeavour to cover in a later article, but suffice to say for now, it has it’s ups and downs. The main down being when you have just got used to your favorite thing hanging around, all delicious and readily available, then bamm, it’s gone for the year. I feel this pain with many things, from certain mushrooms (weird, I know), asparagus, blood oranges and stoned fruits. But figs are something I all too often overlook, and this year, has been the year of being a fig convert, and I’m not ready to let go.
Eating seasonally is great…
If like me, your emotions are driven substantially by regular (delicious) food interludes, then you too, need to cook your way out of that funk.
Figs tend to be imported, although you can get British ones. So focus on the ‘local’ shop, rather than the place of origin. If you have any queries about what is in season (both local and imported produce) check out this website.
One of the most glorious things about a fig is it’s flexibility as an ingredient. Straight up fresh figs are soft, sweet and full of flavour. But they can be easily served in a salad, as a starter, pudding, ice cream, with yoghurt and granola, put in a tart or even on toast. So today I want to talk about figs three ways. Fresh as a starter, baked as a pudding, and preserved (into a jam). And they are all super, duper, easy.
I have had some great figs this season from Reg the Veg in Clifton, the Ashton Fruit Shop on North Street, and even Source in St Nicks Market. However, the chances are your local greengrocers will still have some in stock over the next month, so have a root around through here to see where your closest one is.
This starter is all about showing ingredients off, so less cooking, and more preparing. Don’t dismiss this style of food. Whilst some of the ingredients are slightly pricey – it will be worth it.
- four fresh figs
- one buffalo mozzarella ball
- small handful basil and mint
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar (or pomegranate molasses)
The preparation is simple:
- cut the figs into quarters.
- tear the mozzarella into bite size chunks.
- smash the mint and basil leaves in your hand to release some of flavour
- drizzle with the oil and vinegar
- sprinkle with seasoning
Buy the best oil you can justify buying. It gets super expensive, so don’t feel like you’ve should buy the top of the range, but good olive oil is such a great staple ingredient to have. You don’t have to cook with it, just keep it to use straight up on salad or just with fresh bread. It’ll be an investment you won’t regret.
In terms of balsamic vinegar, again, the best balsamic is best. As it gets better and better, it becomes richer and sweeter with lots of depth of flavour. However, pomegranate molasses is a delicious alternative and a fair bit cheaper.
You can jazz the recipe up with crunchy bread crumbs, pea shoots/snaps or anything you fancy to give it either a refreshing lift or variety of texture. But I’d say simple is best.
Here’s what you need:
- four figs
- (sea salt)
- creme fraiche
- toasted hazelnuts
And here’s how to do it:
- preheat the oven to 180°C
- cut quite deep crosses into the top of the figs
- place onto tin foil covered baking tray
- drizzle with honey
- slightly bruise the thyme, then sprinkle on
- finish with a pinch of salt
Be careful with what honey you use. Lots of supermarket honeys use a blended variety that is not environmentally sound. It’s best to try and buy local or English honey if you can. Save the bees and all.
- bake for 15 minutes
- toast some hazelnuts on a low heat in a non-stick frying pan.
- serve with hazelnuts and creme fraiche
Here’s what you need:
- one kilo figs
- 600g sugar (jam sugar if possible)
- juice of one lemon
And here’s how to make it:
- chop the figs into quarters
- cover them with sugar and lemon and let the juices come out for an hr.
- put in a large/heavy base pan and cook on a low heat until thickened
- take it off the heat and let it cool down before you transfer to individual jars
Figured you’d need to chat more about figs – let us know your fig recipes here. Don’t beat around the mulberry bush.
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