Figs have two distinct seasons. The first season is in early June. The second season is in the autumn when they are plentiful. There are many varieties, but the most common are the Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Green Kadota.
Today, most figs are grown in California because of the weather. All these varieties are wonderful served raw in salads, on bruschetta and on crostatas, on a fruit and cheese board and as a delicious snack. These little fruit gems taste sweet and are often described as honey-flavored with tiny seeds inside that add a slight crunch.
Recently I eyed some perfectly ripe figs at my local farmers market. Figs should be slightly soft to the touch with no rips to the skin. I wanted to see how the flavor and texture would be if I sauteed them with my favorite tawny port, which has hints of plum, apricot, walnut and even caramel. You can buy an inexpensive brand for this recipe.
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Cooking the figs brings out their sweetness and soft texture. The key is to cook them just until they are nicely softened and keep their shape. This recipe goes into the Seriously Simple file for sure; it couldn’t be easier. Enjoy this as a simple dessert with yogurt or ice cream, an add-in to an endive salad, or a side sauce to roast duck or chicken. I sometimes make it for Thanksgiving and have it on the dessert table as an extra fall flavor. Enjoy!
Figs in Port Wine
Serves 4 to 6
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup tawny port
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cinnamon stick
- 12 Black Mission figs, halved (You can use whatever fig is available)
1. In a large skillet combine the sugar, port, vanilla and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer on medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved.
2. Arrange the fig halves cut side down in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes. Turn over the figs and cook for another 4 minutes in the syrup or until the figs are nicely softened and hold their shape.
3. Remove from the heat and cool. Serve the figs in small glass bowls. Pour remaining syrup evenly over the figs. Serve.
Note: If not serving warm, refrigerate in a container and cover. Refrigerate until serving.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)
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