Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Very Figgy Day to You!

fresh black figs in a bowl on a blue table
Who else loves figs?
Image: Shutterstock
When I was little, I’m pretty sure I had no idea that figs existed—other than as the name of the delicious and chewy cookie we bought sometimes. When I got older, I did learn that it was a fruit, though I never tried it. My dad never cooked much, and though my mom did, it was always fairly stereotypically American—tuna casserole, spaghetti, meatloaf. We didn’t eat fancy things like figs, in part because as kids we were pretty picky and probably would have just turned up our noses.

But after college, I had to learn to fend for myself. I’ve never been much of a junk food eater (bread is my downfall), and I learned frommy dad’s illness that processed foods have a whole lot of unnecessary and often unhealthy things in them, so I didn’t want to use too many of those. Unfortunately, I had no idea how to cook.

But, over the years, I’ve taught myself how to make quite a few meals from scratch (along with some help from friends more food-snobby than me) instead of from the box. Thank God for the Internet! I didn’t actually try fresh figs until I moved to Seattle and I happened to order a pizza that had some on top. What can I say; it was love at first bite!

You can imagine my elation when I spotted some figs at Trader Joe’s this weekend. I still don’t know much about using them in recipes, but I love buying foods I don’t know how to cook with just to force myself to learn how. So, I bought a bunch of figs.

We’ve used them in two dinners so far. Earlier this week, I sliced some up thinly and put them on top of some homemade pizzas along with artichoke hearts, fresh basil, olives, Canadian bacon, pesto, red sauce, and (of course) mozzarella cheese. Last night, we had steak, spicy baked kale, and sautéed figs—all I did was slice them in half and sauté them in a little oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Both nights, the figs lent just the perfect amount of sweet to our meals. Next, I think I’ll try them in some morning oatmeal.

Besides the taste, eatingfigs provides an array of health benefits. They are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid. They can help lower blood pressure, assist in weight loss because of the high dietary fiber, protect against postmenopausal breast cancer, and protect against macular degeneration.

Have you ever cooked with figs? What is your favorite fig recipe? I’d love to hear some more ideas for how to use these lovely little fruits up!