The figs, considered berries, are in and they are very sweet and tasty.
Figs, which are considered berries, are in and they are very sweet and tasty.
They have been around since ancient human history, and are found readily in the Mid-eastern countries. They grow in the US for a very short season of August to September. This tiny plum shaped fruit has many health benefits such as soluble fiber, and is a great source of vitamins (A, E and K) and minerals (calcium, selenium, potassium, manganese, copper, and zinc). They are low in calories, and ried figs are concentrated sources of energy and are an excellent source of anti-oxidants.
Figs can be easily prepared for some delicious dishes. Figs can be eaten raw, cooked, stewed, dried, candied, tossed in salads, or made into a jam, breads, and/or puddings. Figs tend to perish quickly, so it’s best to eat or use them within a couple of days.
Below are also a couple of my favorite quiche recipes. During this time of the year it’s nice to sit and enjoy a light lunch, brunch or supper with a green salad and a fresh baked quiche. The quiche may be eaten warm or cold and is usually sliced into wedge pieces. They can be made with a wide variety of ingredients combining eggs, milk, cheeses, chopped meats, and/or vegetables. Try making one the next time you have guests for lunch or dinner; they’ll be impressed. Quiches are quite easy to make and take about an hour to bake. They may be made the day before, if desired. After they’re prepared and baked they can keep for 4-5 days, refrigerated.
Fresh Figs and Greens Salad
1/4 cup EVOO olive oil
1 tablespoon fig preserves or jam
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced then smashed
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 fresh, ripe figs, cut in half or quarters lengthwise
Shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 pound Genoa salami, cut in a whole piece then cut into small chunks
Bibb lettuce leaves torn into bite size pieces, or a simple green salad
In a bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, fig preserves or jam, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for up to a week. Serve over Bibb lettuce with shaved Parmesan cheese, halved figs, and some Genoa salami pieces.
Cook’s Note: Cooked pancetta or bacon may be substituted for salami.
Cooked Figs in Syrup
! cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or a whole cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 whole cloves
1 tablespoon orange zest
12-16 fresh, ripe figs, left whole or cut in half lengthwise
Bring all ingredients to a boil, except for figs, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat to a steady low simmer. Add whole or halved figs and cook about 4-5 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove figs and place in a bowl. Let the syrup cool for about 1-2 hours then return figs to syrup, gently stir together and pour into refrigerator jars or containers, refrigerate. These figs will keep for two months and may be served plain with syrup or with vanilla ice cream.
Broiled Fig Halves
8-12 fresh ripe figs, cut in half lengthwise
canola oil or melted butter
Lay fig halves, cut side facing up, on a baking sheet and brush cut side with a little bit of oil or melted butter. Broil until the fig tops bubble and start to brown on the edges. To use as a dessert drizzle with some honey and vanilla ice cream.
Steamed Dried Fig Pudding
This recipe can be made in advance, and if frozen after thoroughly cooling, it will keep for a few months. It makes a nice hostess gift.
1 pound dried figs
1 3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups ground suet
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons orange zest
Snip stems from figs. Using a double boiler, snip figs into tiny pieces and put into pot; add milk, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
In another bowl beat eggs and add suet, bread crumbs, orange zest, and fig mixture. Then add flour mixture and stir well.
Pour into a well greased 2-quart casserole, baking dish, or mold; cover tightly. Place on a rack in a deep pot and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of casserole dish. Steam, covered for 2 - hours, or until done. Let stand for about 5 minutes before removing from dish.
To serve, if made and frozen in advance, wrap pudding in foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1-hour or until hot; or steam in same casserole dish used in recipe above, for about one hour.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or a Hard Sauce.
Cook’s note: Vegetable shortening like Crisco may be substituted for suet, if desired. Suet can be purchased and ground up from your butcher.
Spinach and Cheddar Cheese Quiche
1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry, or chopped broccoli
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup cottage cheese
4 large eggs, room temperature and beaten
1/2 cup Bisquick
1 medium red ripe tomato cut into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Spread pressed chopped spinach over the bottom of plate. Top an even layer of shredded cheddar cheese over spinach.
In a blender or with an electric mixer, beat together yogurt, cottage cheese, Bisquick, melted butter, then add eggs and beat until smooth about 20 seconds. Pour over spinach and top with tomato slices,
forming a circle, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean about 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese
1 small container ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup half and half
4 eggs, room temperature, beaten
8 slices smoked bacon, cooked crisply, cooled and crumbled
1 teaspoon dill weed
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Spread chopped spinach on bottom of plate, then top evenly with shredded cheese, then top this with crumbled bacon.
In a bowl mix together ricotta cheese, sour cream, half and half , dill weed, and eggs. Pour into pie dish over bacon topping. Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden on top and when a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.