I was totally planning on posting a very different dish today, especially since I’ve been talking a lot about dessert lately, but it’s fig season, people! And fig season isn’t going to hang around forever, so I thought it my culinary duty to remind you to grab some figs while they’re still with us and enjoy the heck out of them before it’s too late and you are forced to spend the next 6 months in an unbalanced state teetering between deprivation anxiety (that's a real thing) and wistful longing.
As much as I love figs, I also realize that mine is not a universal experience. There are those, like yours truly, who believe figs are one of the finest, tastiest and most delicious fruits that one can possibly find on this planet. Then, there are the rest of the people.
If you find yourself on team fig, then you’ll be with me (self-proclaimed team captain), enjoying delicious things such as this fig crostata that I just threw together one day because it was fig season and that’s the kind of thing that fig lovers do...we just find ways to work them into our life. I must beg your indulgence, though, as I didn’t have my camera present when I made the crostata and took this photo with my phone. Then, when it came time to actually finish the crostata for consumption, I didn’t have my phone handy to record how pretty each slice was, and consumption proceeded without documentation. But I will tell you that after slicing the crostata, each piece was topped with slightly sweetened-vanilla-laden, creamy mascarpone cheese and then drizzled with some lusciously thick balsamic syrup. And I will also tell you that it was a mighty pretty sight, eclipsed only by it's figgy deliciousness.
Assuming that you’re a member of team fig, let’s talk about those luscious little globes of deliciousness. If you’re lucky enough to have a tree in your yard or your neighbor’s yard or in your neighborhood, or somewhere within a 5-mile radius of your home, then you know that the very best way to enjoy a fig is plucked right fresh from the source. We had a fig tree (well, kind’ve a shrub) in our back yard when I was little and this is where I had my first fig experience. It was most definitely love at first bite. Beyond that, the fig newton was pretty much our family mascot, and I’m fairly certain it was emblazoned on our family crest. Those ubiquitous fig cookies were present at every family vacation, road trip, beach party, picnic and pantry raid. There were just always fig newtons in my life, and to this day they hold an especially nostalgic and beloved place on my favorite cookie list. But I digress.
You might notice that there aren’t a whole bunch of fig recipes on my blog and there’s a very good reason for that. I prefer not to do a bunch of fussy stuff with figs. The fanciest thing I’ve done is this bread pudding,
which, odd photo notwithstanding, is so amazingly delicious. But if you’re a real fig lover, you also must try these (O-M-G!)...
figs dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt). I can't even describe to you how good these are.
And then there’s this fig jam, which is so good and so easy to make and will provide a bit of fig happiness long after fig season is over.
So I absolutely and whole-heartedly encourage you to find yourself some fresh figs and dip em in chocolate, make some jam, bake em crostata-style, or simply find a team mate to share a bowl of them with you. Before it's too late. Sigh.
P.S. Here are just a few of fig's best friends to inspire you into further fig enjoyment... goat cheese, blue cheese, any cheese, actually, chocolate, bacon, balsamic, ice cream, and of course, Newtons.
Fresh Fig Crostata
The beautiful thing about crostatas are that they do not require much fussiness. They’re rustic, free-form and open to your creative whims and impulses. Here’s how I made mine, but feel free to switch it up and make it your own.
Enough pastry dough for a 9 or 10-inch pie crust (store bought or homemade)
6 or 7 fresh, ripe figs, sliced
2 tablespoons of raw or turbinado sugar
Balsamic vinegar syrup (recipe below)
Mascarpone cream (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the parchment paper onto a flat surface and roll the pastry dough into a 10 or 12-inch circle (this doesn’t need to be exact as rustic looks best) on the parchment paper. Transfer this to your baking sheet.
Place the fig slices over the center of the dough, leaving a 1½ to 2 inch border. Fold the edges of the dough over the figs. Sprinkle the figs and the edges of the dough with the raw sugar and place in a preheated oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges of the dough start to turn golden brown.
Let cool briefly before slicing. This can be served warm or at room temperature. To serve, top each slice with a dollop of mascarpone cream and a drizzle of balsamic syrup.
For the Balsamic Syrup:
In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of balsamic vinegar and ¼ cup sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half or until thick and syrup-y. Be careful to not let it get too thick as it will thicken further as it cools. Another version of this that makes an incredibly delicious syrup is to cook down 1 cup of balsamic vinegar with 1 cup of port wine and 1/2 cup of sugar. Let this simmer until thick and syrup-y. It's divine.
For the Mascarpone Cream:
Combine 8 oz of softened (room temperature) mascarpone cheese with 2 teaspoons vanilla and ¼ cup of sugar. Stir to combine thoroughly. Add more sugar to taste.