In the weekly markets, in the village alimentari (grocery store) and hiding beneath the large leaves of the trees surrounding Piegaro, figs are everywhere! Late summer has arrived and we are in Fig Heaven.
The soft green skin bursts open to reveal its juicy sweet surprise and we can eat them smugly knowing that they are the healthiest of fruits, rich in calcium, magnesium, iron and fiber. Lovely to look at and divine to eat, I serve them many ways but here are two of my favorites: one for a late summer light pranzo and the other to anoint hearty roast pork in winter. Enjoy!
Fig and Arugula Salad for Summer:
Place enough arugula on a plate; season with your finest extra-virgin olive oil and just a splash of balsamic vinegar. Arrange figs cut into quarters over arugula, skin sides down so their beautiful pink centers contrast with the green, then arrange curled very thinly sliced prosciutto. Top with large slivers of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sweet and salty: figs and prosciutto are a marriage in heaven!
Canned Fig Compote for Winter:
Makes 8-4 oz. jars of compote.
Juice of 8 oranges
4 lbs. of fresh figs, chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons sugar
4 cups of good red wine (suggest Sangiovese or Merlot)
10 rosemary sprigs wrapped in cheesecloth bag
8 cups water
Mix figs, orange juice and sugar in bowl. Let meld in fridge for one hour; put into a non-reactive saucepan and add wine, water and rosemary bag. Bring to high boil then immediately on low simmer for one hour stirring occasionally until most liquid has evaporated. Leave wooden spoon in pan to draw heat up so it does not stick to bottom. Remove rosemary, and ladle into glass jars leaving ¼ inch at top; process in water bath for 45 minutes. Cool and store to serve with roast pork.