DAVID LEBOVITZ’S ROASTED FIGS

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“FIGS!” I exclaimed out loud the other day when I came upon a display of them at the grocery store.  My outburst startled a woman near me, but instead of subtly side-stepping away as many do when I talk to myself in public, she did a double-take and also exclaimed, “Oh yeah! Figs!”  I love them so much, and their season and shelf life are both so short that when I find them, I go an all-figs-all-day diet so as not to let a single one spoil.

Just a few days ago, however, I came across David Lebovitz’s recipe for Roasted Figs.  I bookmarked it because I knew the season was near, and I wanted to be armed and ready when I spied my first one.  For a change, it was a thrill to take home more than I could reasonably gorge myself on within three or four days.

David finds his figs at open-air markets in France.  Paris, France.  Probably not far from where they are grown.  Figs grow abundantly in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern climes, and will also grow a bit farther north in areas with a dependably hot summer.  Mine come from a grocery store a few blocks away, and by the time they get there, they’ve got some miles on them.  I don’t care.  They’re figs.  I’ve got to have them.   Their arrival tells me that summer is winding down. There couldn’t be a better way for it to go than on the heels of figs.

Figs have almost no redeeming nutritional value.  They contain a moderate amount of fiber, but beyond that you’d need to consume an entire treesworth to garner enough vitamins and minerals to register as even slightly significant.  I don’t care.  They’re figs.

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If you looked like this, would you care about your vitamin C content?

Figs are sensuous.  They are plump, soft, veritably made to cup tenderly in one’s palms.  Inside and out, their colors are incomparable.  No two look alike.  Biting into one is an experience in subtle layers of flavor and texture.  The skin yields much more readily than one might expect. The inner flesh is of a tenderness all its own. And the deep pink-to-crimson center is full of tiny, satisfyingly crunchy seeds that will remind you of those in a kiwi, if only a kiwi were fortunate enough to be a fig.  It’s only after the bite is gone that you realize the lingering sum of gentle figgy flavor.  God, I love figs!

So, while we are still pre-Labor Day on the calendar and in the 90s on the thermometer, today I’m going to do some cooking for winter.  Come a rainy November eve, I plan to make some sort of custard (possibly this one, also from David’s Parisian kitchen).  While it’s baking, I’ll thaw a small container of figs roasted on hot August day, and spoon them over the still-warm custard.  I’m surprised to find myself longing for rain to come.

A pound of figs will comprise about 20.  Do trim off the stems; they’re tough.  Cut the figs in half lengthwise and arrange them in a non-reactive baking pan.  I had more than would fit in a single layer, so I wedged the extras and strips of lemon zest in among their friends.  David’s recipe calls for fresh thyme, but I’ve been snipping from mine enough that it is still growing back, so I turned to my rosemary plant instead.  Figs? Rosemary?  Hell yes.  I sprinkled the brown sugar over the figs, then drizzled some honey over the top.  A little red wine into the pan, and they were almost ready for the oven.  Since I had more than one layer, I snugged them up with a blanket of aluminum foil to ensure that the would all roast evenly and also yield some invaluable, fragrant juices.  After all, they were going into a 400º oven.

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Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.   Stand right over the pan as you fold back the foil so as inhale every last molecule of emanating fragrance.  It’s worth every minute of heating an oven on a hot day.

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I divided my figs among several small freezer containers.  They’re exactly right for 6 halves each.  I poured the residual juices into a measuring cup because it was the easiest way to divide them (about 4 ounces) equally among the containers.  The amount in each one is just right to top a dessert or two. Or for an hors d’oeuvre I’m beginning to imagine.  Before the rains come.

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About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
This entry was posted in Condiments, Desserts, Hors d'oeuvres, RECIPES, The Freezer is Your Friend, Vegan, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to DAVID LEBOVITZ’S ROASTED FIGS

  1. Bevi says:

    Talking to myself in public is a normal and daily activity. This sound delicious and it’s a great idea to brighten the winter months.

  2. I LOVE figs, always poached and never thought of roasting them. Thats even better than poaching, love the rosemary and wine. I might try a fruity sweetish white. These are just gorgeous.

  3. Diana B says:

    Too bad you don’t live nearby. I’ve been picking figs for weeks from various friends’ trees and making assorted fig jams — I wish I could give you a jar!

  4. Karen Ehresman-Oberly says:

    Hi Cynthia

    My sour dough starter wnet bad and I was wondering if you have the receipe for making hte starter? Love those sour dough pancakes! Thanks Karen

    • Wow, is it ever wonderful to hear from you! I’m in the process of building a new one, and will call you when it’s ready. You’re welcome to some of it, and it will be a joy to see you.

  5. I LOVE figs as well! I also talk in public at such moments much to nearby persons’ surprise sometimes. When I read David’s blog entry the other day about his roasted figs I ached for them and the next fig season here in Australia in 6 months time. I can say it now that I have every intention of roasting my figs and storing them for future use just as you have Cynthia. I am longing to hold those beauties in my hands, smell them, taste them. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  6. Bevi says:

    Yay! I made a batch of these beauties today, using port because I had an open bottle. The aroma in the kitchen was spectacular! I divided the darlings into 2 portions and put them in the freezer. I am thinking one of the batches will be delicious over a roast pork loin. Thanks so much for posting DL’s recipe. I bought 4 pounds of figs, and made a fig, cognac and lemon peel jam from a recipe I found on Epicurious.com. with the rest of the bounty.

  7. I love roasted figs! I used to make a roasted fig compote with garlic and rosemary that I toppled over pork when I used to eat pork :-). I need to make this again and find some vegetarian uses for it !!!

  8. Grisel says:

    My figs are in the oven as as type being magically combine qith all the ingredients !! Thankyou

  9. Mary whitlow says:

    I tried this recipe today; it is wonderful!!! I have several fig trees in my yard and every year I give away tons of figs. I may not be giving away so many after finding this recipe! Thank you very much!

    • Mary, the only thing that saddens me is that I am unfortunately not your neighbor, one who would gladly trade plump, warm loaves of bread for a few of your precious figs. I am very, very happy that you are enjoying this so much. Thank you deeply.

  10. Joyce Payne says:

    We are picking an absurd amount off of our trees. My daughter is getting married in October. Do you think if we cut them in half put goat cheese on top wrapped with prosciutto and froze them then baked, or baked then froze, will they be good? We were talking of drizzling with honey, but would we NEED to serve them on a cracker or would they hold up with a toothpick?

    • Joyce,

      Let me first tell you how extremely en iris I am of your fig bounty. And warm congratulations to your daughter.

      I would suggest roasting the figs, as you described, than wrapping the, securely in plastic. To serve, of course thaw them, then finish with the prosciutto and goat cheese. I suspect they will be toothpick safe, but to be sure, insert the pick sideways.

      I hope you have a wonderful celebration!

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