Since discovering figs a few years ago I have cautiously nurtured my interest into a seasonal attraction. Not always easy to come by even when they are in season, I was able to find a reliable source for figs in the Pacific Northwest. I wasn’t sure, however, where I would find them in my new home in Tennessee.
Not to worry, I found them a few weeks ago, in a small box nestled among the seasonal berries at The Fresh Market. There, for $3 I acquired about a dozen perfect two bite sized mission figs. Then, at the local farmer’s market last week I found them again, even fresher and more appealing.
A Sweet Attraction
While I am attracted to figs my past experience with them has been mixed. At times I admire their modest outward appearance and enjoy the complex sweetness of their vivid flesh. At other times I shy away from the almost cloying tear-shaped softness and sandy sweet crunch of these dark gems.
It took some time for me to understand how to gauge the ripeness of figs, and I am still learning. While fully ripe figs have a profound depth to their sweetness that I think is best enjoyed on its own, a fig that is just shy of perfect ripeness is excellent for pairing with goat cheese and honey or quartered to scatter with red onion and gorgonzola on a pizza. That is also the stage where they are best suited to use in this delicious little composed salad.
Note: For an extra pretty garnish slice small figs from the stem end down, almost through in two directions. Spread the quarters apart and stuff with chèvre. Drizzle the tops with a few drops of honey and top with a toasted pecan. Place one on each salad or serve as appetizers.