Food & Drink

Fig-feasting time is almost here

Figs are or should soon be ripe for the picking.

This not only means good eating but also good-for-you eating. Figs are high in potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. With all the processed foods that are eaten, consumers get much more sodium than any diet ever needed. The potassium in the figs help combat the higher salt intakes.

Fiber-rich figs may help with weight management since fiber makes a person feel fuller longer, eating less in the long run. What a sweet way to lose weight!

Besides their potassium and fiber content, figs emerged from The World’s Healthiest Foods’ (whfood.org) food ranking system as a good source of the trace mineral manganese. The aim of this organization is to help folks eat and cook better for better health.

Few things are as good as fresh figs. Picking them and eating right off the tree is the best. Another favorite is cutting the figs into a bowl and topping with a little sweetener and milk, a great breakfast that is quick and healthy.

Like blueberries or bananas, fresh figs also are great on cereal. Simply add five or so cut up to a favorite high fiber cereal. There will be no mid-morning snack attack.

Figs can be incorporated into any meal. Fresh figs, mixed greens, cheese and another fruit make for a light salad that can be served with a meal or as a stand-alone lunch entrée.

Appetizers like figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey — or, to be truly decadent, drizzled with truffle honey — are easy and set the stage for the prelude to a good meal.

The World’s Healthiest Foods, run by the George Mateljan Foundation, suggests a quick dessert idea: Poach figs in juice or red wine and serve over yogurt or frozen desserts.

Here are some tested recipes that extend figs’ nutrition and good eating beyond biscuits or toast. And Carlene McClellan of Gulfport turns her fig preserves into strawberry ones.

Still looking

Dave Charles wants a good recipe for almond bread that is made with almond flour. Readers, if you have this recipe, please send it to me.

Need a recipe?

If you need a recipe or lost a family favorite, e-mail me or write a note. I will try to find it for you.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net or Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

Fig Salad with Greens and Walnuts

4 ripe figs

6 cups greens (arugula, red leaf lettuce, endive, limestone lettuce, chervil sprigs, etc.)

2 or 3 rounds of mild goat cheese

1 egg, slightly beaten

Bread crumbs

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup walnut oil

2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

Freeze the goat cheese for 1 hour. Remove from freezer and slice into medallions of 1/2 inch. Dip into egg, then into bread crumbs. Sauté in small skillet in oil until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Whisk the oil and vinegar in a salad bowl, add the greens, walnuts and toss. Place greens on plate, garnish with 2 or 3 medallions of goat cheese and 1 fig.

Waldorf Fig Salad

From the California Fig Advisory Board

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons verjuice, a tart juice made from unripened white grapes or crabapples (Maggie Beer of Australia bottles it; could substitute a mild white wine vinegar)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and white pepper, to taste

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 ounces each), poached and diced

4 stalks celery, ribs removed and sliced

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced to 1/2 inch

3 red radishes, shredded

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small

1/4 cup dried California figs, stemmed and diced

1/2 cup fresh figs, stemmed and diced

6 to 12 butter lettuce leaves

1/4 cup candied pecans

1 pomegranate, seeds only (optional)

Combine the sour cream, yogurt, mustard, parsley, honey, verjuice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl; whisk and mix together well. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Add the diced chicken, celery, apples, radishes, bell pepper and figs to the mixing bowl and toss to coat well with dressing.

To serve, divide and scoop the salad onto 6 salad plates lined with butter lettuce leaves. Garnish with the candied pecans and pomegranate seeds, as desired. Serves 6.

Nutrients per serving: 320 calories, 15g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 17g fat (7g saturated fat), 55mg cholesterol, 105mg sodium, 482mg potassium.

Halibut with Asian Fig and Ginger Sauce

From the California Fig Advisory Board and AARP

4 ounces dried California Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 white onion, chopped

2 Fresno chilies, stems and seeds removed

1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot

1 1/2 cups clam juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 halibut fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups hot, cooked long-grain white rice

4 fresh figs, stemmed and sliced

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the quartered figs, garlic, onion, chilies, fresh gingerroot and clam juice. Heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until the figs are softened. Set aside to cool. Turn into a blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Return to the saucepan and set aside.

In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil until hot. Gently sauté the halibut on both sides until golden brown. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until just cooked through.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the shrimp with water and salt. Heat to a boil and drain immediately. Turn into a warm skillet with the halibut and keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve, reheat the sauce to a simmer and stir in the cream, sesame oil, lime juice and salt. Divide the rice among 4 plates and layer the halibut on top. Divide and spoon the sauce over and around the fish. Garnish with the poached shrimp, sliced figs and chopped chives. Note: If you wish, you can substitute fat-free half-and-half for the cream.

Nutrients per serving: 563 calories, 54g protein, 54g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 14g fat (4g saturated fat), 108mg cholesterol, 663mg sodium, 1,563mg potassium

Mock Strawberry Jam

Submitted by Carlene McClellan from “The Fruit of the Spirit” cookbook

6 cups fresh figs, smashed

3 cups sugar

2 packages or 1 large package strawberry gelatin

Cut stems off the figs and wash very well. Drain and crush to a pulp. Place all ingredients in a large pot, cook over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble. Reduce heat and continue cooking for 45 minutes, stirring often. Yields: 4 to 5 pints. Can in small sterilized jars.

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