We’re in the thick of fig season, a luscious five months in Maryland that begins in June and ends in October. With hundreds of varieties, ranging in color from almost white to midnight black, figs actually originated out West, where Spanish Franciscan missionaries settled southern California. (Ergo, the black mission fig.)
As with zucchini, though, whose notorious proliferation demands fresh recipes this time of year, so too the fig, which is especially plentiful on the Eastern Shore. I’ve developed new dishes over the years that are as quick and easy to make as they are satisfying. One of my favorites is prepared on the grill and can be used either as an appetizer or as a garnish for a salad. The addition of crispy pancetta in this dish plays well against figs’ natural sweetness.
I’ve also created a salad of balsamic vinegar dressing, goat cheese, and figs, which makes for a heavenly threesome atop semi-bitter arugula. For complete indulgence, try the recipe for fried bread, seared foie gras, and an Italian, fig-flavored syrup called vincotto. Probably my favorite fig concoction is a dessert known as a tarte tatin, in which figs are cooked upside down in caramel sauce while the pastry browns on top.
My only word of cuation: figs last for only two to three days, even in the fridge, so indulge sooner rather than later. Enjoy!
Andrew Evans is the owner/chef of Easton’s Thai Ki.