Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grilled Figs with Fresh Cheese, Thyme, and Honey


There is nothing terribly wrong with a Fig Newton.  Especially with a glass of milk. Or a cup of tea. There are worse treats.  Unfortunately, it's about the only way some people eat figs.  A few more buy dried figs at the holidays for some special baking project.  ("Now bring me some figgy pudding" probably isn't the one I'm talking about.)   Wine and cheese lovers often grab a few figs to eat with fresh cheese or salty ones like Manchego.  And nowadays, fig jam is a very popular condiment for a wine and cheese party if you have the six bucks or so for a small jar.  (I like to mix that jam with balsamic vinegar for an instant sauce for lamb chops.)

But fresh figs?  The average grocery shopper seldom sees them unless they live in California. (They're one of woman's oldest known foods, you know.)  But from now until the late fall, fresh figs are in season (albeit pricey) and there's a lot of bang for the buck.  While a pint container may be $7 or so, it's enough for dessert for four.  Which could be cheaper than your favorite ice cream.  Add some of that fresh cheese you made the other day and you're nearly set.

Out here in the northern middle-west (Minnesota, to be exact), the figs have just started coming into the high-end stores.  If you can't use them right away, they can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.  The ones I bought last week were not terribly tasty fresh (they're a bit young), but they were perfect grilled.  Here's the drill:

Grilled Figs with Fresh Cheese, Thyme, and Honey  2 servings  (Have one tonight and one with your yogurt for breakfast.)
  • 2 figs, rinsed, trimmed of stems, and split in half
  • 1tsp vegetable oil
  • 2T fresh cheese (your own, goat, or ricotta will do)
  • 1T local honey
  • 1/2 t fresh thyme (plus a sprig for garnish)  or 1/4 t dry
  • 2 grinds of black pepper
Heat your gas grill (or your indoor grill pan on stove) to medium heat.  Brush with oil.
  1. Place split figs, open side down, onto grill.  Grill 1-2 minutes and carefully turn.  Grill for another minute or so and remove from the grill to a plate.
  2. Spoon a little cheese onto the center of each fig half and drizzle with honey.
  3. Sprinkle with thyme and a little black pepper.
  4. A little port (fortified wine made in Portugal and elsewhere) wouldn't go amiss.
According to California fig farmers, here are some important things to remember:
  • Look for the softest figs; a soft texture indicates the fruit is ready to consume immediately.  
  • Don't be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma.
  • Fresh figs are delicate. Handle gently.
  • Keep figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days.
  • Too many to eat right away? Just rinse and freeze. Simply arrange in a single layer on a pan and put in the freezer. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
  • Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.  (courtesy Yahoo! News)
Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,

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