My grandfather had one fig tree in the back yard of the home where my mother grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi. My mother still remembers picking a perfectly ripe fig and popping it into her mouth when she was a little girl in the 1920’s. I have no memory of figs at all, since I grew up in central Vermont where figs cannot grow. The only mention of figs that I can remember were the packaged Fig Newton cookies, or the “Figgy Pudding” we sang about at Christmastime, but none of us had any idea what Figgy Pudding might be.
After 30+ years of living on an avocado ranch in San Diego county, I now recognize a fig tree when I see one. Fig season is here, and San Diego will be celebrating fresh California figs in a big way on September 8th! Fig Fest 2013 takes place at the San Diego Public Market from 4 to 7 pm. I was lucky enough to be given a whole flat of fresh California figs this week by the California Fig Advisory Board in anticipation of Fig Fest 2013. These figs are the “Brown Turkey” variety: red, purple and green fruits with a rose center and amber colored edible seeds. They have a mild flavor, less sweet than other varieties, which makes them perfect for a salad, served alone as an appetizer or snack, or sweetened up for a tasty dessert!
Fresh ripe figs don’t last long…they need to be eaten! I decided to use a few figs to make a quick and easy dessert, as I couldn’t resist popping them into my mouth, just as my mother used to do.
In a skillet on top of the stove, I melted 1 teaspoon of butter and added 4 Tablespoons of Vermont maple syrup. I cut about 8 fresh figs into quarters, crushed 1/4 cup of walnuts, and added them to the maple syrup in the pan. Then I just stirred gently until the maple syrup reduced and began to glaze the figs and walnuts…about 3 minutes.
The maple figs and walnuts could have been served by themselves…perhaps with a dollop of whipped cream, but I used some as a topping for vanilla bean ice cream. Tasty! This dessert is elegant enough to serve for company and easy enough to do at the last minute!
The delicate texture of the fruit combine perfectly with the earthy sweet maple and crunchy walnuts. It’s great to know that figs contain vitamin B6, protein, calcium, phosphorus and iron, plus are cholesterol-free, sodium-free and fat-free, according to Specialty Produce, one of the sponsors of San Diego Fig Fest.
If you’re near San Diego on September 8th, be sure to come to Fig Fest 2013 hosted by San Diego Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, San Diego Public Market, and California Fig Advisory Board. There will be plenty of food samples, local wines and craft brews, with new fig recipes from San Diego’s best chefs! I’ll be trying some different fig recipes here at the ranch too, so stay tuned for more!