A couple days ago as I was wondering through the produce section at Gelson’s and I spotted for the first time this season what is probably my all-time favorite seasonal fruits….fresh summer figs. I don’t know of any fruit that evokes more of a sensual arousal in foodies than the fig. In fact, even in ‘pre-foodie’ times D.H. Lawrence wrote an entire poem praising its sensuality… Surely no fruit more deservedly owes claim to the adjective ‘luscious’ than the fig.
A Simple Definition of luscious: having a very appealing taste or smell; richly appealing; very physically attractive.
I’ve also heard numerous descriptions likening figs to various parts of the female anatomy but I’ll leave them unmentioned here in an attempt to maintain a ‘PG’ rated status for my blog.
There are several species of figs but the ‘Black Mission’ and ‘Brown Turkey’ (the ones I bought) seem to be the most common types available in markets, but you can also occasionally find the striking striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs, and while very subtle differences do exist, they all just taste uniquely like figs. Not everyone, however, is a fan… You either love them or the texture and flavor grosses you out.
I had my 6 year old grandson Dylan for a sleepover the other night and we were making flatbreads for dinner. I decided that my version was going to include the figs I brought home so when we began to assemble the toppings I asked him if he’d like to try one. I was prepared for a half-eaten, mauled fig to end up being ralphed on the kitchen floor, or worse, my shoes, but to my surprise he asked to have another!
The fig was luscious!
So given that you’re going to have your outdoor grill regularly fired up for summer cookouts I’m going to share one of my favorite ways of eating and serving figs. I’ve always been drawn to combining foods and ingredients in a way where you get a sweet, salty, and smoky flavors all bouncing off each other and this fig dish delivers just that. You can serve them as an appetizer or as a buffet side dish.
I’ve even served them over vanilla ice cream….trust me on this…it’s a unique and awesome dessert.
Recipe –Grilled Prosciutto-wrapped Figs stuffed with Cambazola
» 1 dozen Fresh figs (…see shopping tip below)
» 1 dozen Slices of prosciutto
» 1 wedge Cambazola
» 12 each Toothpicks or rosemary branches
» As needed: Balsamic Syrup (available at specialty stores or on Amazon) You can also make your own but just reducing balsamic vinegar over low heat until syrupy
» (Shopping tip for your figs) Figs are extremely perishable so you want them to be just barely ripe and should be purchased the day before or day of enjoying. The skin should be taut but the fruit should give slightly when squeezed. Avoid any figs with wrinkled skin or that are weeping juice.
First cut off any of the tough stem that are attached then cut figs in half from based to stem end. Place the 12 of the halves on a table cut side up and scoop about 1 teaspoon or so of the Cambazola cheese into the center and cavity of the fig half. (You can use any other soft, triple cream blue cheese or goat cheese)
Next place the other half of each fig on the stuffed side and press together lightly. Take one slice of prosciutto and wrap around each fig. Then skewer each fig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place with either a toothpick or, if you’re in a really artsy mood, with a thin stalk of rosemary with most of the leaves peeled off.
A couple minutes before you’re ready to grill your little beauties, dip a crunched up paper towel into vegetable oil and, using long handled tongs, rub the towel lengthwise down the grates on your grill. This will help keep the prosciutto from sticking.
Next thing you need to do is pour yourself a nice glass of wine or three fingers of tequila and head toward the grill with your plate of figs. This is no time to try and show off your multi-tasking skills. You need to be solely focused on the task at hand here or you’ll end up with a bunch of mushy figs cloaked in bitter, blackened, expensive Italian ham.
Still using long handled tongs, place the figs on the grill over medium-high heat. The goal is to lightly char and crisp up the prosciutto on a couple sides only. Remove figs from grill and head back inside. Find a beautiful serving plate and generously sprinkle it with arugula leaves then place figs on the plate. I always have balsamic syrup in my pantry. It’s great to finish off pepper greens, pork chops or sausages so drizzle the plate very lightly with the syrup.
Be bold and finish the dish off by grinding a little coarse black pepper over the top and enjoy!