This week we have been blessed with a bounty of ripe and juicy Brown Turkey figs, straight off the tree. Figs have always been one of my favorite fruits, because they are slightly unusual and have a unique textural and color spectrum mix-up with their thickish purple skin, soft crimson flesh, and crunch yellow seeds. The scent of fig is also something to behold, as you will see in any boutique candle or fragrance shop; their aroma is deeply sweet and pairs well with both fresh/herbal and woody notes.
My childhood friend Ann had a fig tree in her back yard, and I have early memories of eating really fresh figs straight off the tree. Fig trees spawn their fruit in the summer and here in Southern California we are high on the fig hog. Yesterday as we were heading out on our daily 3 mile hike/walk, I spied more figs ready to be picked off the tree, and as I approached I saw two nearly prehistoric looking, armory-jacketed, wildly green bugs with fluorescent green and silver legs, gnawing at a half-eaten fig. These fellas were not letting go, even despite my angling closer and closer for a photo.
I would have been happy to eat all of these figs raw, with some yogurt for breakfast, in salads with burrata and almonds, drizzled with balsamic and paired with a sharp piece of pecorino, or on top of ice cream for dessert. But M prefers figs dried, so I experimented with home-drying. I set a cookie sheet full of figs in the oven at 175 degrees for about 10 hours, and they turned out dried, but still retaining some moisture. They were slightly juicy and caramelized rather than leathery-dry.
As the days went on this week I pondered recipes, and in the recesses of my memory was a recent pesto recipe I’d seen on Sofia’s wonderful blog. I remembered it had dried figs, but beyond that wasn’t sure. Since my basil plant died this week, I used some fresh mint from my mom’s garden, added spinach to mellow the flavor, and rounded out with raw cashews, olive oil, grey salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I needed to add a few drops of water as I blended to thin out to proper consistency, and it worked without compromising the flavor.
The pesto was unique and very delicious. I paired it with soft scrambled eggs, a lovely match. I imagine it would also go well with cold roasted meats on a sandwich; as a dip for raw vegetables, chips or flatbread; as a pizza base; even on pasta with some fresh peas, snap peas, or potatoes and green beans.