Saturday, August 01, 2015

Give a Fig - With Recipes for Lamb with Figs, Hot Chocolate Fig Sauce (with Sea Salt) and a Frozen Fig-Banana Dessert

I like figs - dried, fresh and cooked. Fresh they are juicy and earthy. Dried they are little nuggets of complex sweetness. Cooked they bring color and flavor to a dish.

I enjoy creating recipes with them for both this blog and my Jewish food column in the J weekly.  Seeing fresh figs in the farmers' market or produce store sets my imagination racing about new recipes I can develop and ways I can find to eat these.

It doesn't have to be a fresh fig either to get me going.  The first time I had fig jam slathered over cheese (try a creamy blue or a soft goat cheese) on a whole wheat biscuit-style cracker was a revelation.  Dried figs are like candy in my house to eat out of hand or create confections.

Figs are in season right now in California, which means my fig radar is going full blast.  For more about the types of fresh figs, tips and recipes using figs in recipes and more, check out the California Fig Advisory Board's website.

In honor of the board's upcoming California Fig Fest in Fresno, CA later this month (August 15), I thought I would share some of my recent fig recipes using fresh figs, dried figs and a wowser of a hot chocolate sauce with fig jam and sea salt. To see my recipe for pistachio fig tart with a honey glaze click here. For my fig almond tart in a cornmeal olive oil crust click here.

In the Jewish-Christian tradition, figs symbolize endurance, peace and fruitfulness. Adam and Eve clothed their nakedness with fig leaves. Early scholars ascribed medicinal value to the fig, which is biologically a flower rather than a true fruit. Today, California grows almost 98 percent of the U.S. crop of figs. Worldwide, Turkey is the number one grower of figs. Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Syria and Greece are also major growers. 

For the Lamb with Figs below, I used black mission figs, but brown turkey figs would also work. Sample before buying since figs’ intensity and sweetness vary.

The Hot Chocolate Fig Sauce with Sea Salt can be made in advance, refrigerated and gently reheated. Use non-dairy ingredients for a vegan sauce. Bananas give the vegan Fig-Banana Frozen Dessert a surprisingly creamy texture.