Falling for Figs - Quinoa Fig Salad Recipe

September is the peak time of year for fresh figs. While intensely sweet and chewy dried figs are available year round—great for adding to baked goods, compotes, and sweet-tart stews—they are very different from the delicate fresh varieties that are showing up in the markets right now. With soft, slightly ridged or velvety skin giving way to a moist (detractors would say mealy or mushy) interior with crunchy seeds, this fiber-rich Mediterranean fruit offers a unique textural eating experience.

 

Quinoa and fig salad

 

When purchasing figs, be sure to choose those that are fully ripe and yield slightly when pressed, as they will not continue to ripen on the countertop. Avoid those that are very firm, oozing white liquid at the stem end, bruised, or have spots of mold. Store them at room temperature in a shallow bowl or plate and eat within a day or two of purchasing, if possible, or refrigerate for up to a week. Wash the figs just before serving, and be sure to cut off the tough stem.

September is the peak time of year for fresh figs. While intensely sweet and chewy dried figs are available year round—great for adding to baked goods, compotes, and sweet-tart stews—they are very different from the delicate fresh varieties that are showing up in the markets right now. With soft, slightly ridged or velvety skin giving way to a moist (detractors would say mealy or mushy) interior with crunchy seeds, this fiber-rich Mediterranean fruit offers a unique textural eating experience.

 

When purchasing figs, be sure to choose those that are fully ripe and yield slightly when pressed, as they will not continue to ripen on the countertop. Avoid those that are very firm, oozing white liquid at the stem end, bruised, or have spots of mold. Store them at room temperature in a shallow bowl or plate and eat within a day or two of purchasing, if possible, or refrigerate for up to a week. Wash the figs just before serving, and be sure to cut off the tough stem.

 

Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between several popular types of figs:

 

-Black Mission fig: With smooth blackish-purple skin and dense, slightly chewy, pinkish flesh, this widely available fig is great for a variety of uses. It is moist, full flavored, very sweet and earthy.

 

-Brown Turkey fig: This all-purpose fig has a pear-like shape, brownish-purple skin that transitions to light green toward the stem end, and amber-pink flesh. When perfectly ripe, it exhibits a honey-like flavor.

 

-Kadota fig: This medium sized fig is light green on the outside and amber on the inside. It is the most common green fig, and is generally less sweet than other varieties. Fun fact? Kadota figs are used in Fig Newtons.

 

-Calimyrna fig: The flesh of this larger yellow-green fig is slightly drier than other varietals, but has a delicate nutty flavor that works well in both sweet and savory applications.

 

-Panache/Striped Tiger fig: This unusual smaller sized fig is light yellow with green stripes on the outside, and bright red on the inside. The flesh has a jammy consistency with a tart-sweet, berry-like flavor.

 

While most fresh figs are great simply eaten out of hand, they are also excellent incorporated into a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

-Halve or quarter and serve on top of Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some toasted almonds for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

-Slice and use as a topping for pizza, flatbread, or toast, in conjunction with mascarpone cheese and prosciutto.

-Cook down with sugar and a small amount of lemon juice to make into jam.

-Bake into a galette, almond cake, or upside-down cake.

-Grill or poach and serve with lightly sweetened crème fraiche.

-Slice and shingle onto a fruit tart or cheesecake.

-Quarter and sauté into a pan sauce to serve alongside pork tenderloin, seared duck breast, or roasted chicken.

-Slice and stir into spiced oatmeal or other breakfast porridge.

-Include on a cheese platter along with nuts, assorted crackers, and cured meats.

-Add to your favorite grain or leafy green salads (see recipe below).

Go Fig or Go Home

Figs

Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between several popular types of figs:

  • Black Mission fig: With smooth blackish-purple skin and dense, slightly chewy, pinkish flesh, this widely available fig is great for a variety of uses. It is moist, full flavored, very sweet and earthy.
  • Brown Turkey fig: This all-purpose fig has a pear-like shape, brownish-purple skin that transitions to light green toward the stem end, and amber-pink flesh. When perfectly ripe, it exhibits a honey-like flavor.
  • Kadota fig: This medium sized fig is light green on the outside and amber on the inside. It is the most common green fig, and is generally less sweet than other varieties. Fun fact? Kadota figs are used in Fig Newtons.
  • Calimyrna fig: The flesh of this larger yellow-green fig is slightly drier than other varietals, but has a delicate nutty flavor that works well in both sweet and savory applications.
  • Panache/Striped Tiger fig: This unusual smaller sized fig is light yellow with green stripes on the outside, and bright red on the inside. The flesh has a jammy consistency with a tart-sweet, berry-like flavor.

While most fresh figs are great simply eaten out of hand, they are also excellent incorporated into a variety of dishes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Halve or quarter and serve on top of Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some toasted almonds for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
  • Slice and use as a topping for pizza, flatbread, or toast, in conjunction with mascarpone cheese and prosciutto.
  • Cook down with sugar and a small amount of lemon juice to make into jam.
  • Bake into a galette, almond cake, or upside-down cake.
  • Grill or poach and serve with lightly sweetened crème fraiche.
  • Slice and shingle onto a fruit tart or cheesecake.
  • Quarter and sauté into a pan sauce to serve alongside pork tenderloin, seared duck breast, or roasted chicken.
  • Slice and stir into spiced oatmeal or other breakfast porridge.
  • Include on a cheese platter along with nuts, assorted crackers, and cured meats.
  • Add to your favorite grain or leafy green salads (see recipe below).

Quinoa Salad with Fresh Figs

Black mission figs

Black Mission figs work especially well in this recipe, but any type will do. 

Ingredients

quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine-mesh sieve

1 cup water

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 small shallot, minced

1 tsp. honey

2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

6 fresh figs, quartered

1/4 cup toasted chopped almonds

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

2 cups baby arugula

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cooking Instructions

Saucepan

1. Place the quinoa, water and 1/4 tsp. of the salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes longer. Fluff gently with a fork.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallot, honey, lemon juice, olive oil, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Add the quinoa and toss to coat.

3. Add the figs, almonds, mint, arugula and feta and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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