Fig Season Arrives Early Due to Warm Weather

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There's a reason 98 percent of domestic fresh figs come from California – the warm, California sunshine provides the perfect climate for growing delicious and nutritious figs! And, thanks to an un-seasonally warm start to the summer, the 2013 fresh California fig season is officially underway two weeks ahead of schedule. 

According to California's fig farmers, the main crop harvest is bountiful and fresh figs grown in California will be plentiful until mid-December.  

"Chefs and consumers can delight in the excellent quality of the 2013 crop now available across all varieties – Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Kadota, Sierra and Tiger, a new variety that can be identified by its subtle green stripes and striking raspberry color and flavor notes," reports Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, California Fresh Fig Growers Association.

With fruit now available in stores, California fig farmers offer the following tips as a reminder when purchasing fresh figs, including:

>>Look for the softest figs; a soft texture indicates the fruit is ready to consume immediately.   

>>Don't be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma.

>>Fresh figs are delicate. Handle gently.

>>Keep figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days.

>>Too many to eat right away? Just rinse and freeze. Simply arrange in a single layer on a pan and put in the freezer. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.

>>Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.

Stockli adds that everything except the stem is edible, and figs can be enjoyed by themselves or combined with other favorite summertime foods. Each variety has unique and different flavors – try them all to find your favorites. An excellent source of dietary fiber, fresh, flavorful California figs are also high in antioxidants, fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free.   

Celebrate summer with these fresh California fig recipes, and for more information, recipes and serving tips, visit: californiafigs.com

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED FIGS AND ARUGULA SALAD

INGREDIENTS
Fig Vinaigrette
1/2 cup chopped fresh California figs (4 to 6 figs)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry, raspberry or white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper; to taste

Arugula Salad
4 cups baby arugula
8 small fresh California figs
2 ounces top quality blue cheese, divided
8 strips prosciutto (about 4 inches long by 1 inch wide)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

PROCEDURE
Fig Vinaigrette
Combine figs, olive oil, vinegar and garlic in blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper; cover and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Arugula Salad
Divide and arrange arugula on 4 salad plates. Starting at stem end, cut figs in half nearly through but leaving blossom end intact. Press 1/2 tablespoon cheese in center of each and press halves together. Wrap each fig with prosciutto and secure with toothpick. Grill over high heat, 5 minutes, turning frequently, and basting with balsamic vinegar. As soon as prosciutto is crisp, remove from grill and arrange 2 figs on each plate. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and pine nuts. Serve dressing on the side.

Serves: 4

 

MARINATED TOMATO, FRESH FIG AND FETA CHEESE PIZZA

INGREDIENTS
1 cup vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and cubed
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped green or black olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 fresh California figs, sliced
4 ounces Feta cheese
1 unbaked 10-inch pizza crust
Salt and olive oil; as needed

PROCEDURE
Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, olives and oil in large bowl; let stand at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out pizza dough balls to about 1/2-inch thick and 10 inches in diameter.

Spread with marinated tomatoes; top with sliced figs and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 500 degrees F until cheese is melted and crust is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cut in wedges and serve hot.

Yields: One 10-inch pizza
Serves: 8

GRILLED FRESH FIG AND BEET SALAD

INGREDIENTS
Dressing
4 ounces goat cheese
4 ounces sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped herbs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper; to taste

Figs and Beet Salad
8 ounces fresh California Brown Turkey figs, halved
8 ounces red beets; cooked, peeled and cut in half
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper; to taste
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped herbs
1 teaspoon minced shallot or red onion
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon walnut oil
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

PROCEDURE
Dressing
Place goat cheese, sour cream, mustard, vinegar and herbs in mixer bowl; blend on medium speed until ingredients are combined. Slowly drizzle in oil and continue to mix on medium speed until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in refrigerator.

Figs and Beet Salad
Combine figs and beets in mixing bowl; toss with olive oil, salt and black pepper and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Then, grill figs and beets, browning on all sides; return to mixing bowl and chill. To serve, add chopped herbs, shallot, balsamic vinegar and walnut oil to figs and beets; toss until combined. Divide and mound in the center of 4 salad plates. Drizzle goat cheese dressing around figs and beets. Add arugula leaves to the remaining balsamic-walnut oil vinaigrette and toss until coated. Divide and add to the plates; drizzle remaining vinaigrette over all and sprinkle with walnuts.

Serves: 4