Falling for Figs - Quinoa Fig Salad Recipe
Posted on September 06, 2016
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.
Go Fig or Go Home
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
- 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
- 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
- Include on a cheese platter along with nuts, assorted
crackers, and cured meats.
- Add to your favorite grain or leafy green salads (see
Quinoa Salad with Fresh Figs
Black Mission figs work especially well in this recipe, but
any type will do.
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
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.
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