With Labor Day picnics and barbecues in mind, I’ve been thinking about what appetizers I might offer as my contribution to dinners during the upcoming weekend. Much as I like homemade pita chips and roasted red pepper hummus or goat cheese covered in sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil, I wanted to try something entirely new (to me.)
Then purely by chance last night, lovely friends gave me a box of fresh figs. They are in season right now. Have you ever had fresh figs? If you have only had the dried variety (which I do like – don’t get me wrong), the fresh ones are entirely different; barely sweet and delightfully soft when ripe, fresh figs are truly amazing.
One note before you rush out to a farmers market to buy figs – they don’t last long. If they are still a bit hard, you can leave them on the counter for a day or two, and you can refrigerate them for a day or so, but you shouldn’t buy them on a weekend and expect them to last until the end of the week. Like strawberries, when you store figs, leave room for air to circulate; don’t crowd them in a bowl or leave them in the basket you bought them in.
I had fun crowdsourcing ideas for what to do with them – I asked friends on twitter and Facebook and have listed below some of their wonderful suggestions. But when it came down to using the figs, I decided to try an experiment.
Using a sandwich bag clipped at the end instead of a pastry bag with a metal or plastic tip, I piped a mixture of sour cream, balsamic vinegar, honey and a bit of freshly ground pepper onto the figs. It took literally 10 minutes from start to finish and they are mighty tasty. Slightly sweet, but mostly tart, creamy but not overly rich, the figs are bite-sized and perfect before a grilled dinner or a cold buffet. You could even serve them at a brunch.
Elegant? I’ll leave that judgment to you.
Figs and Balsamic Cream
Servings – 16 bite-sized portions Cost – $5-6
- 16 fresh figs – preferably small ones
- ½ cup of sour cream
- 4 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar (red)
- 2 teaspoons of honey
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs – either small thyme leaves or tiny pieces of chives (optional)
- Measuring cup (for solids)
- Measuring teaspoon
- Small spoon
- Small bowl
- Cutting board
- Small knife
- Plastic sandwich bag
- Cut a tiny corner off the bag where the mixture is, tip the bag toward the fig halves and gently press on the bag to squeeze out a small amount into the middle of each fig half. When the cream is almost used up, add more into the bag and continue until all the fig halves have been “dotted” with the cream.
- Optional – Gently place thyme leaves or tiny pieces of chives on top of the cream.
Other ideas for what to do with fresh figs.
- Make jam. – Stacey Viera
- Stuff them with a little Gorgonzola or Camembert and drizzle a bit of fruity olive oil on top. – Aviva of The Six O’Clock Scramble
- Use them in a salad with Bulgarian feta and a drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar. – Christina
- Blend them into a marinade for chicken, with olive oil, ginger, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. – Amanda of MarocMama
- Use them in something baked, or dry them. – Layla
- Bake them in a fig and almond cake or with goat cheese. – Nancy