Recipes for Shabbat
By Eileen Goltz
Figs are fascinating. They've been around since the beginning of Jewish history (to paraphrase Bereshis, chapter 3 line 7, "The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons") and while I've always enjoyed the dried ones it's only recently that I've found out how versatile the fresh ones are.
Today's best figs come from California. They were brought to the United States by the Spanish missionaries who first planted them at the San Diego Mission in 1759. Fig trees were then planted at each succeeding mission, going north through California. Hence the name Mission fig. The popular Calimyrna fig is the Smyrna variety that was brought to California from Turkey in 1882, and was renamed Calimyrna in honor of the state where it flourished.
There are literally hundreds of fig varieties, but the two most popular are the Calimyrna and Kadota. Figs are so good for you. They provide more fiber than any other fruit or vegetable and that fiber is both soluble and insoluble. One quarter-cup serving of dried figs provides 5 grams of fiber, 6% of the iron, 6% of the calcium, and 7% of the daily requirement for potassium. They have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. This is a good fruit and if you aren't eating them now, you should be. Figs are harvested in the mid to late summer and early fall so they should be hitting the grocery shelves any day now but, because they are dried and packaged, they are available all year long.
With that thought in mind you should try the follow
recipes at anytime of the year, substituting the dried figs for the fresh
ones if they aren't available.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pine nuts
on a baking sheet and bake 8-12 minutes until the nuts are lightly toasted.
Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool. In a small bowl,
combine the cream cheese, cooled pine nuts, orange zest and pepper, mixing
until smooth. Slice each fig in half lengthwise. Press about a tablespoon of
the cream cheese mixture into the cut side of each fig half. Makes 20
stuffed figs; one per serving.
Swirl olive oil in bottom of medium nonstick skillet.
Add onions and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over
medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 10
minutes. Remove cover and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 15
to 20 minutes. Stir in figs, wine, broth, vinegar and fresh rosemary.
Increase heat to high and simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add
salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle
salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Place on lightly oiled heavy baking
sheet. Roast for 7 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes. Sprinkle salmon with
parsley. Serve over fig sauce. Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or
RASPBERRY-FIG SAUCE: Remove stems and thinly slice
figs. Whirl berries and juice in blender until smooth. Strain sauce through
fine-meshed strainer into medium saucepan; discard seeds. Stir in figs,
sugar and liqueur. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring for 1
minute. Cool. Chill. Preheat the oven to 400. Thaw the pastry for 20
minutes; unfold and cut along folds into 3 rectangles. Cut each rectangle,
crosswise, into four pieces. Place on baking sheet. Prick with fork. Brush 8
pieces with egg white and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 10 minutes or until
golden. Remove from sheet and cool on rack. Split each pastry in half,
lengthwise. Whip cream until firm peaks form. Stir in the lemon curd. TO
SERVE: Remove figs with slotted spoon; reserve sauce. Spoon sauce onto 8
small plates. Place one plain pastry, cut side up, on each plate. Spoon half
of figs and half of lemon cream on pastries, dividing evenly. Top each with
another plain pastry, cut side down, remaining figs and cream. Top with
almond pastries. Serves 8.
In a bowl combine the lemon juice, sugar, salt, cumin,
and cayenne and whisk together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add
the carrots and figs and toss well. Let stand, uncovered, at room
temperature, tossing occasionally, until carrots are wilted, about 30
minutes. Makes about 3 cups.
In a small bowl stir together zest, citrus juices,
vanilla, and sugar. Butter six 1-cup shallow flameproof gratin dishes or
bowls. Quarter the figs. Halve and pit apricots. Divide figs, apricots,
raspberries, and juice mixture among dishes or bowls. Just before serving,
sprinkle sugar evenly over fruit and caramelize with blowtorch, moving flame
evenly back and forth just over sugar or broil fruit under a preheated
broiler set 2 to 3 inches from heat until most of sugar is melted and deep
golden in places. Immediately serve the brûlées with sour cream, yogurt or
creme fraîche. Serves 6.
This is an easy gourmet appetizer. I often add some chopped green olives to the olive mixture and a little more balsamic. Goat cheese may also be used in place of the cream
Combine figs and water in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, and liquid has reduced. Remove from
heat, and stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and
cayenne. Add olives and garlic, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to
taste. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to
blend. Unwrap the cream cheese block, and place on a serving platter. Spoon
the tapenade over the cheese, and sprinkle the top with walnuts. Serve with
slices of French bread or crackers. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
In a large bowl combine the wild rice with the figs,
pecans, peas and raisins, mix to combine and set aside. In another bowl
combine the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and grated orange
rind. Mix well and pour the dressing over the rice mixture. Stir to coat.
Add the salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and allow to stand for two
hours. The flavor of this salad is best when it is served at room
temperature. Serves 8.
Peel and core the pears. Cut each pear in half lengthwise. Combine water, sugar, honey, lemon rind, and cloves in a large non-aluminum saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, and add to sugar mixture; discard the bean. Bring sugar mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Place pears, cut sides up, in pan, simmer 25 minutes or until tender. Remove pear halves with a slotted spoon, reserving the sugar mixture; place pear halves in a large shallow dish. Cover and chill. Bring sugar mixture to a boil; cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 30 minutes). Cool. Serve each pear half with 2 tablespoons sauce, 2 tablespoons raspberries, and 3 fig halves; garnish with a mint sprig, if desired. Serves 8.
© Eileen Goltz 2003