On the way back from our summer holidays in Praiano, we could not avoid indulging in some nostalgia. Among the things that we will miss are the breath-taking views, the warm blue waters, the mighty rocks, and the fig trees. Walking through the gate, along the steps that led to the garden before the entrance to the small villa where we were staying, to our greatest delight, we discovered a fig tree filled with deliciously sweet and almost perfectly ripe figs! Let us tell you, if there is one fruit that by the end of every spring, we deeply crave, figs are among the ones at the top of our list! No wonder they made it into “The 5: We are Obsessed about” from last month’s issue.
Figs exist in a few varieties that bear fruits at different times extending fig season in Italy from the beginning of June to end of October. The best figs are usually the ones that become ripe toward the end of the summer. Fig in Italian “fico or fica” is also among the fruits known to be aphrodisiac, analogies between the beautiful and intensely red and pink colored fruit and female beauty and sexuality date back to the Akkadians and Phoenicians around 2,300 B.C. Not many fruits can boast over 4,000 years of literature about love and desire!
Figs distinguish themselves from many fruits as very sweet, used elegantly in desserts and to make jams. Their sweetness makes them also perfect to be combined in appetizers with more savory products such as pecorino or salumi like prosciutto crudo. Below are a few simple recipes and pairings that will make the beginning or end of your meal something to dream of.
PERFECT FIG PAIRINGS FOR APPETIZERS
Pizza Prosciutto e Fichi
Buy some ripe figs, some prosciutto crudo thinly sliced by your local butcher, Parma or San Daniele work great, and a warm piece of piazza bianca in Rome or schiacciata in Florence.
Peel the figs, slice the pizza bianca / schiacciata in two and fill it with the figs and sliced prosciutto. Portion in small squares for a delicious aperitivo.
Fichi e Prosciutto
For a great antipasto you can peel the figs and roll them in a slice of prosciutto.
‘It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.’
Insalata di Fichi
For a meat free option you can make a fresh summer salad with arugula, mesclun, fresh figs and walnuts, dress with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Ricotta e Fichi Toast
Toast a couple of bread slices.
Peel the figs and cut them in quarters
Apply fresh ricotta on the toast and on top add 4 quarters of fig per toast.
Add a pinch of salt and drizzle a good amount of extra virgin olive oil