Sometime around late May, the first fresh figs appeared at our local farmers’ market.
Then after just a couple of weeks of people enjoying this sweet culinary delight, they all but disappeared. This leads to most people wondering why this year’s season was so short-lived.
Then, as we rolled into August, the fresh figs began to ramp back up, with nearly a dozen varieties emerging, and they’re much more abundant than in the late spring. This second set of figs is the absolute best, something I’ve been thoroughly enjoying on a regular basis.
From the “Brown Turkey” and the “Kodota” to the “Calimyrna” and the stunning “Tiger Striped,” there is no shortage of fresh figs this time of year, all offering their own uniqueness when it comes the flavor and texture.
But my favorite variety year in and year out tend to be the richly flavored “Black Mission” figs. This variety tends to be one of the sweetest around.
Figs are quite interesting in that they are actually an inverted flower, consisting of nearly 1,500 fruits within the outer skin. This member of the mulberry family is quite delicious when consumed fresh as it comes, but it’s also a nice addition to salads, used to top a homemade pizza with arugula or incorporate into an array of desserts, and in appetizer preparations.
This week I prepared some grilled black mission figs stuffed with goat cheese. Topped with crushed pistachio and chopped basil, then finished with a drizzle of aged balsamic, these make for quite the tasty appetizer bite, or to plate with slow-cooked barbecue ribs. If you’re not serving ribs, a little crumbled bacon on top is a great touch.
GRILLED GOAT CHEESE FIGS
2 dozen black mission figs (or any variety you prefer). Firm-ripe
4 ounces crumbled chèvre (goat cheese)
1/2 cup pistachio kernels, crushed into pieces
5 large basil leaves, rolled together and cut into ribbons
Aged balsamic vinegar
Good quality olive oil
Optional, crumbled bacon
Preheat grill to high heat. Trim off the figs stem, then cut an X at the top
of the fig to create an opening, exposing the flesh of the fig. Brush each top of fig half with a little butter.
Once the grill is hot, place the figs exposed flesh side down on the grill and cook for about 2 minutes. Then flip and cook for 2 more minutes.
Plate and top with crumbled goat cheese, working it toward the inside of the cavity of the fig. The warm figs will allow the cheese to just slightly melt/soften. Then top with pistachios and basil, finished with a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Top with crumbled bacon if desired.
Yield: Makes 2 dozen pieces.