Figs are not just for the birds

Finally, finally,  the Brown Turkey fig tree is putting out enough fruit for people and the birds. I’ve been waiting for eight years, and this summer, the hot weather and periodic rain worked together to get the fig machine going.

We worried two years ago, when the whole thing died practically to the ground. Then it came back, with muliple stems shooting out in all directions. Now, at about four feet in diameter, this neglected, but loved, fig is handing out fruit daily.

We only know one other person who has a fig tree, but it came with her house and she just lets the birds have them. I don’t know if people just don’t like them, or think they are too hard to grow. But the truth is, figs are easier than tomatoes – you just have to be patient waiting for that first crop.

Gardening books say we are supposed to feed our fig 15-15-15 fertilizer and wrap the lower branches in sticky tape to prevent ants, cover it in a net to deter birds and sing to it on full moons. Yeah, we don’t do any of that. We pull the weeds around it and, well, that’s about it. It doesn’t get watered, or netted or mulched. Hmmm. Maybe if we did some of that, we wouldn’t have had to wait eight years for a good first crop.

Anyway, now we’ve got to eat all these figs.

I cook with them, because I have to pick them before they are fully ripe. Otherwise, the resident mockingbirds, who have an internal ripeness monitor, swoop in. You know those family members who take a bite out of something, then put it back? That’s the kind of disappointment that comes from reaching for what looks like a perfect fig, only to find the other side is a mushy, pecked-to-death mess.

There are no recipes here for poached, dried or preserved figs. Who has the time for that? I just want to prepare them quickly, in dishes that get the most from their earthy but delicate flavor.

Figgy Roll-ups

A handful of (6-7) fresh figs

4 oz. proscuitto

4 oz. creamy blue cheese (Saga or Danish works great)

1/4 cup almonds, sliced and toasted

1 can crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Cut each fig into four pieces and place in a bowl. Dice the proscuitto and add it, the blue cheese and almonds to the bowl. Mix gently.

On a floured surface, roll the crescent roll dough out briefly into one thin rectangle, just enough to seal the perferations. Spoon filling all along one long side. Then roll the dough up, turning in short ends to seal. Place seam side down on the cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.


Chicken and Fig Pita Pizzas

1 pita pocket

1 cup diced cooked chicken

enough chopped fresh figs to fill one cup

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup baby salad greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the pita in half, then split each half into 2 portions, so you have four thin half-moon crusts.

Top with chicken, figs and goat cheese. Top with basil, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Bake 10-12 minutes, until pitas are browned. Remove pizzas from oven, top with salad greens and serve.

Fig Salsa

10-12 fresh figs

2 green onion, diced

1 peach, peeled and diced

2 Tbsp. mint, chopped

2 garlic clove, minced

1 lime

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Chop figs into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl and add green onion, peach, mint and garlic. Zest the lime and add 1 Tbsp. peel to salsa in bowl. Squeeze the lime into the bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Serve with roast chicken or pork.


















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