More Fig Gigs

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

If we’ve ever spent any amount of time talking, you’ll know I am fairly delirious for figs in every aspect. Last fig season my blog post on figs was all about the good news of figs-growing the trees, health benefits, fiber, flavor, fun. Well it’s the same old song this year, but with new recipes. You see with all of our weather issues for produce this season, my five different varieties of fig trees are yielding beautifully. Perhaps that is because I bought most of them at Homestead Gardens-carrying the largest selection I have seen. As folks rave about the sweet meatiness of my varieties, I tell them to only go to Homestead Gardens and talk to the staff about the best variety for their garden.

Benefits Of Figs

Figs belong to the Mulberry family and are botanically known as Ficus Carica. This fruit first originated in parts of Northern Asia and it is one of the oldest fruits that humans have ever known. Figs are small and juicy fruits that have a chewy texture and sweet smell. This fruit has been a favorite fruit of many historical figures and thus occupies a significant place in many cultures all over the world. Figs are consumed both in fresh and dried forms and are available in shades of colors, like green, purple, and brown. This fruit has a high nutritional value and numerous health benefits for people using them regularly. These benefits include:

1. Helps to prevent constipation.
Figs contain a very high amount of fiber, which makes it a perfect fruit for keeping away form constipation. The fiber adds bulk to the food and supports its proper digestion so that the user has a healthy bowel function.

2. Aids to reduce cholesterol.
Figs contain rich quantities of Pectin- a soluble fiber. When this fiber pectin reaches the digestive system, it swabs up the globes of cholesterol and removes them out of the body.

3. Helps in reducing weight.
The fiber present in figs also aids in reducing weight. Regular intake of figs is thus quite recommended for obese people.

4. Prevents coronary heart disease.
Dried figs contain rich amounts of Omega-3, Omega-6 and phenol. The presence of these fatty acids makes figs a perfect fruit for reducing the occurrence of coronary heart disease.

5. Protects the body from colon cancer.
The presence of dietary fiber in figs helps to swab up and remove cancer causing substances from the body. It also protects the body form the risk of colon cancer.

6. Beneficial for women.
Regular intake of figs protects women form the occurrence of post-menopausal breast cancer. This is again due to high content of fiber present in figs.

7. Aids in preventing hypertension.
Low intake of potassium and high intake of sodium causes hypertension. Figs contain rich amounts of potassium and low quantity of sodium, thus preventing hypertension.

8. Helps to strengthen bones.
Figs contain rich amounts of Calcium, which is an important mineral providing strength to the bones.

9. Helps prevent macular degeneration.
The most common cause of loss of vision in older people is macular degeneration. The nutritional content of figs makes it a perfect fruit for avoiding this condition.

10. Relieves sore throat.
Figs contain good amount of mucilage that helps in healing sore throats.

Although this fruit is highly nutritious, too much usage of the fruity must be avoided. Excessive use of figs can cause diarrhea. Dried figs contain high quantity of sugar and might result in tooth decay. (from: http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-figs/)

Fig, Proscuitto and Boursin Salad with Fig Vinaigrette

Serves 4

The ingredients of the salad just meld together for that beautiful sweet, sour, salty, slightly bitter combination. You’ll want to even double the vinaigrette and keep extra in the refrigerator to slather over seafood and poultry.

  • 4 cups baby spinach or arugula and red Boston lettuce
  • 8 figs, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 2 ounces very thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chilled Boursin cheese, crumbled

First make the Fig Vinaigrette.

Place the greens, figs, prosciutto and red onion on a serving platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the Boursin cheese and let folks add more vinaigrette as desired.

Fig Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large fresh figs, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the ingredients from the balsamic vinegar to the mustard in a food processor or blender. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and add salt and pepper

Fig Upside Down Cake

Serves 8-10

Beautiful glazed figs grace the top of this dome when the cake is unrobed. We made this rich very moist concoction in an oven-proof 10-inch skillet for the ease of handling when flipping the cake out. It could easily be done ion a 9-inch pan.

Fig Layer:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12-15 large fresh figs, cut in half lengthwise

Cake:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (not Greek style)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Make the Fig Layer:

Melt the butter in a 10-inch oven proof skillet. Add the maple syrup and sugar and stir to mix. Place the figs, cut side down in the butter mixture making a circular design. Reserve while making cake.

In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat together the sugar, pumpkin, butter, spices, eggs and vanilla to blend well. In another bowl, combine with a whisk the dry ingredients: flour through salt.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the yogurt to the pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with the flour, and mixing after each addition.

Pour the batter into the 10-inch skillet-topping the fig mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester inserted in the cake layer comes out clean. Let the pan with the cake rest for 15 minutes on a cooling rack, then loosen the edges with a knife. Flip out carefully onto a serving platter.

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