The finest way to enjoy figs is picked straight from a Mediterranean tree, under the warm October sun.
The scorching heat of August has faded into memory, and now you can comfortably slip on a cardi and pick fruit without the fear of sweltering heat. And while we all wish we could spend our October flip-flopping around Mediterranean groves, gorging on jammy figs with sticky hands, reality often veers in a different direction.
In truth, the figs we get in the UK during October will never be quite so sweet. Imported ones are harvested when not quite ripe, awaiting the long journeys ahead, and the ones home-grown rarely have the syrupy, wine-like intensity of their Mediterranean counterparts. Alas, October is the time when figs are readily available for us to cook with. So what if there were a way to bring the Mediterranean, sun-kissed charm of figs to your kitchen table?
Caramelising figs with a touch of balsamic vinegar infuses them with the subtle acidity, jammy sweetness, and intricate bitterness reminiscent of freshly plucked figs. The crunch of a few walnuts and a whipped ricotta brings balance to the bold flavours. Finish with a dousing of EVOO, and you’ve got yourself a dish straight from the Mediterranean October sun.
Here's the method:
Serves four as part of a brunch time spread. Or two for dessert, for those special occasions.
- Whip your ricotta. Add your ricotta, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, ½ of a lemon’s zest and juice, and a pinch of salt, into a food processor. Whip until smooth and velvety. Pop in the fridge to keep cold.
- Toast your nuts. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and toast your nuts for 1-2 minutes, until they're a tad darker in colour. Pop on a plate and wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper.
- Sun-kiss your figs. Clean your figs, cut off their tops and slice them in half. In the same pan, add brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tbsp water. Pop on a medium heat until it begins to bubble. Add the figs cut side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 3.
- Glaze your nuts. Remove your figs from the pan and deglaze with a small splash of water. Stir the nuts through the sweet, tart sauce, just until they’re coated and sticky.
- Time to assemble. Grab a flat plate and add your whipped ricotta. Top with the cooked figs and dot with candied walnuts. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh oregano, a little lemon zest, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Serve with some crusty bread on the side at brunch, or with two spoons for an extra special dessert.
Ways to make it more your own:
Feel free to play around with the choice of nuts. I go between walnuts, almonds and pecans.
If you fancy, add some salty prosciutto. You're on holiday, after all.
Happy October, Citizens. The sun hasn’t gone quite yet.
—Author: Kate Carruthers, Copywriter & Recipe Developer
"I write copy people want to read. That people can't resist sinking their teeth into. Especially if it's about food, drink or hospitality. Currently freelancing at Ottolenghi, I bring a touch of fun to a world that can sometimes take itself too seriously. Because, at the end of the day, that’s what it is all about. Fun.”
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