The kids are back in school. Labor Day has come and gone. And, the nights are getting longer. All of these are signs that summer is winding down. For me, another tip off is the profusion of fresh figs that start hitting the supermarkets right about now. Rows and rows of Brown Turkeys, Missions, Kadotas and Calimyrnas are lining the produce aisles, discreetly calling out, “Pick me. Pick ME!”. And, I do – lots of them. I just can’t help myself. The sight of all those plump and juicy little jewel-toned fruits makes me giddy. I chop them into salads, stew them into compotes and bake them into tarts. And sometimes, I like to stuff them with cheese and roast them into silky, soft and sweet surrender.
While dried figs are widely available throughout the year, fresh ones are usually only available from late summer through early fall. Most of the fresh figs we find in U.S. markets come from California. They’re one of the only fruits that are allowed to fully ripen on the tree, so their shelf life is very short. When you get them home, it’s best to use them within a day or two, before they start to lose their luster.
The beauty of fresh figs isn’t only skin deep, either. In addition to their soft, yielding lusciousness, figs pack quite a nutritional wallop. They’re high in fiber, low in fat and loaded with potassium, calcium and disease-fighting antioxidants.
While these roasted, stuffed figs taste sublimely rich, creamy and decadent, they’re actually very easy to make. All you need to whip up these ambrosial little morsels are four simple ingredients: fresh figs, chevre or soft goat cheese, honey and chopped walnuts. I prefer to use big, earthy Brown Turkey or Mission figs in this dish, but it works with any variety.
To stuff the figs, you’ll have to first make a few criss-cross cuts into them. They’ll look kind of like the petals of a flower. I cut about two-thirds of the way down each fruit to give me enough room to stuff them. I also like to let the chevre soften up to room temperature and fill a pastry bag with it. Then, I pipe about a teaspoon’s worth of cheese into each fig. It’s much easier and neater to do it this way. Plus, the figs look so pretty with those little swirls of cheese inside.
After the figs are stuffed with chevre, sprinkle the walnuts on top and drizzle some lovely, fragrant honey all over them. I love orange blossom honey the best.
Then, roast them in your oven until they’re all soft and gooey.
The tart, creamy chevre is a perfect complement to those sweet, jammy honey-roasted figs. And, the toasted nuts add just enough crunch to keep thing interesting. I served these figs with some thinly sliced prosciutto. The contrast of salty and sweet was a wonderful pairing. Unfortunately, Mr. SGCC ate it all before I could snap a picture.
You can serve the stuffed figs right out of the oven, but I think they’re even better after they cool down a bit. Either way, they make a great appetizer course or canapés at a cocktail party. You could even get away with presenting them at the end of a meal as part of a cheese course.
Gotta love fresh figs! They’re nutritious,, delicious and pretty darn versatile.
Roasted Chevre, Honey and Walnut Stuffed Figs
- 12 large, fresh figs
- 8 ounces chevre, softened
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Mash the chevre up in a bowl until it has a soft, creamy consistency. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the chevre. Set aside.
- Trim the stems off of the figs and make 2 or 3 criss cross cuts two thirds of the way down each one.
- Pipe about a teaspoon of chevre into the center of each fig, and fit snugly onto a small baking sheet or dish. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the figs, and drizzle all over with the honey.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the figs are very soft and the chevre is bubbly and melted. Remove from the oven and drizzle with additional honey, if desired. Serve immediately or at room temperature.