One of my favorite times of year for seasonal fruit is, well, right now. From late August through about late November, my very favorite fruits are ripe for the picking. (I don’t actually do the picking, but you know what I mean.) First it’s the peaches, plums, and nectarines with their vibrant colors and super-sweet flavors. There’s nothing like biting into a fuzzy peach and feeling the sticky juice run down your chin….yum.
Then, of course, there’s apples. The “peasant fruits” of autumn. So underrated, but oh-so-delicious and oh-so-healthy. I throw them in sauces, saute them as a bed for chicken breasts, and enjoy them as crispy, crunchy snacks with a few almonds or some sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Delish!
Later on in the season, we get pears. Now here’s a strange thing. Even though I eat almost all of my fruit raw or almost raw, I prefer my pears cooked. Wierd, I know, but whatever. That’s just my personal preference. There’s nothing like a baked pear topped with walnuts, honey, and a bit of cinnamon. Or, for a savory spin, stuffed with nuts and bleu cheese crumbles. Wow—I feel as though I’ve died and gone to heaven just thinking about it.
But there’s one autumnal fruit that has won my heart hands down this season. Figs. I’ve never been much of a fig fan until this late summer and fall. They always had an odd shape and texture that I just couldn’t get used to. But I’ve discovered in the past month or so that if you try something more than just once or twice and really give it a chance, your mind can change. After trying them raw in fruit salads and regular green salads, cooking them with balsamic vinegar and ending up with a tangy pan sauce, and enjoying them stuffed with soft goat cheese, I’ve made my final decision: me and figs? We’re a perfect match. Like peanut butter and jelly, apples and cinnamon, bread and butter. We’re just meant to be together.
On top of their unique flavor and perfect little plump shape, figs are SUPER healthy! Last time I checked, they were loaded with fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. Figs are also a high-alkaline food, making them great for support of our body’s pH. Because of their high fiber content, figs are wonderful for intestinal health. In ancient Greek and Roman cultures, figs were a greatly prized commodity reserved for the rich and wealthy and rarely savored by common folk. In various cultures and religions over dozens of centuries, figs have become a symbol of prosperity and livelihood. Pretty interesting, huh?
Figs come in a variety of types: Adriatic, Black Mission, Kadota, Brown Turkey, and Calmiryna. Try them all…see which one is your favorite. Me? I’m a Black Mission girl all the way.
If you’ve never tried figs before, I encourage you to eat them raw first. This allows you an opportunity to enjoy them in their pure, natural state and really gives your palate a chance to detect the depth of flavors and textures. Then try them in sauces, salads, smoothies, appetizers, whatever you can creatively concoct. I have many recipes with figs that I’ve experimented with over this summer, but have been–I will admit–rather lazy and not written any of them down. So here’s a few you can try out from other places around the cyber globe:
- Balsamic Roasted Chicken with Figs and Sweet Onions
- Baked Figs with Raspberries and Yogurt Cream
- Ginger-Flavored Fig Tartlets
If you have any great fig recipes up your sleeve, I’d love it if you shared them! Leave a comment if you’d like. And if you’re new to the world of these delicious fruits, welcome. Give them a try (or three or four tries) and enjoy the ride.
(Note: this post is part of Food Renegade’s “Fight Back Fridays.”)