Delicious California Figs Shine Brightly No Matter the Season

Winter Fancy Food Show Names the Fig a Top Culinary Trend; Kicks Off Another Year-Long Celebration of Nutritious California Figs

Highlighted as one of the culinary world's trending items by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, figs took center stage at the 37th Annual Winter Fancy Food show in San Francisco this past January.  California Figs allow chefs and consumers the opportunity to incorporate this on-trend fruit into an array of dishes throughout the year.

In fact, it's easy and fun to incorporate figs into this Spring's activities and menus.  Scrumptious California Dried Figs, available year round, make great snacks and naturally sweet, flavorful recipe additions. The dense, sweet flesh, coupled with figs' unique texture, goes well in baked goods and desserts, and are a perfect complement to meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, and other fruits and vegetables, as well.  Dried figs are ready to eat right out of the package and are easily sliced and diced to create an amazing marinade, condiment or sauce, like the California Fig Advisory Board's Caribbean Fig-Jerk Sauce.  

"Figs are an incredibly savvy cooking choice because they are available to use year round and easy for any cook to experiment with," says Chef Robert Del Grande, California Fig aficionado and chef/owner of Houston's award-winning RDG + Bar Annie. "Although quite simple, figs are bursting with flavor, and, coming from California, they can add a ray of sunshine to any dish; it's no surprise they were on everybody's mind at this year's show."

The vast majority of these flavorful and small yet mighty fruits are harvested in the nation's Golden State.

"California produces 100 percent of the nation's dried figs and 98 percent of fresh figs, under superb growing conditions and impeccably high standards," says Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer of the California Fig Advisory Board.  "Everyone looks forward to the start of the California Fresh Fig season, but California Dried Figs are just as flavorful and can be added to every course for family meals, and are available to us year round."

The California Fresh Fig season starts in mid-May and continues through mid-December.  California Fresh Figs are deliciously succulent and can be enjoyed out of hand, paired with your favorite cheeses or used to add flare and elegance to any party or guest meal, too.  Fresh figs not only add taste and enjoyment to every course of a meal, but they can come to the table at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time, too.

"It is an exciting time for the California Fig industry," continues Stockli. "Figs and fig flavors have incredible appeal.  Each year, more and more chefs and consumers are learning to appreciate the fig's culinary wonders, its exceptional nutritional value and strong versatility for integrating them into new and classic dishes.  No matter the season, California Dried and Fresh Figs are truly getting their moment on the menu."

California Figs can easily take any recipe from average to extraordinarily scrumptious. Try the California Fig Advisory Board'sCaribbean Jerk Chicken with California Figs for a bright and flavorful addition to spring menus or any time of year. 

Caribbean Jerk Chicken with California Figs


Caribbean Jerk Sauce

4 ounces dried California Mission figs; stemmed and quartered
2 tablespoons Habanero chile sauce or 2 fresh Habanero chiles, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions; white part only, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 whole cloves; minced or crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Chicken Breasts

4 boneless chicken breasts with skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cabbage Slaw

2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1 ripe mango, diced or sliced
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
4 fresh or dried California Calimyrna figs
1 red bell pepper; stems and seeds removed, cut in thin strips
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
6 fresh or dried California Calimyrna figs, sliced for garnish


Caribbean Jerk Sauce

In saucepan, combine chopped figs, Habanero sauce or chiles, chopped garlic, chopped green onions, fresh thyme leaves, brown sugar, vinegar and water. Heat to a boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until figs are soft. Set aside to cool. Transfer ingredients along with about 1/2 cup liquid to food processor. Add olive oil and seasonings and process until smooth to make a thick sauce. Store in refrigerator until needed.

Chicken Breasts

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large ovenproof skillet, heat olive oil until hot. Sear skin side of chicken breasts until lightly browned; turn and sear remaining side. Turn skin side up and brush, liberally, with Caribbean Jerk Sauce. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until done 165°F internal temperature.

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for cabbage slaw, and toss to mix together well. Divide among 4 individual serving plates. Slice each chicken breast into 1/2- inch slices, and arrange on top of cabbage slaw, spooning a dollop of Caribbean Jerk Sauce over each. Garnish with sliced figs.

Serves: 4

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