Figuring Out FigsPosted: September 11, 2014
Don’t know figs at all; wouldn’t recognize them if I saw…
I was surprised to hear my organic-food-promoting friend mention that he ate Fig Newtons (Nabisco). Of all the cookies I once loved… this cookie never was a favorite of mine. Since trying to move away from processed foods of all kind — those ingredients that allow for a super long shelf life are alarming – I purchased a freshly-baked “fig bar” from Zarros Bakery in the city. They’re baked daily and are pretty good; I took a liking to them as well.
Coincidently, fig season was approaching… perfect time to tackle this new fruit.
I started searching the web to find out all I could about them. They’re in the raisin family with a similar yet fruitier flavor and recipes often have fresh figs paired with various cheeses drizzled with honey which is all right with me (the simpler the better).
I am also learning that thin-skinned produce is highly recommended to be purchased organic and figs fall into this category. I watched a You Tube video of a fig tree owner who went out to his yard and picked fig after fig from his tree and popped them into his mouth! How interesting and fun to discover new foods!
Some of the health benefits of figs include:
Folates : 6 µg
Niacin : 0.400 mg
Riboflavin : 0.050 mg
Thiamin : 0.060
Vitamin A : 142 IU
Vitamin B6 : 0.113 µg
Vitamin C : 2 mg
Vitamin E : 0.11 mg
Vitamin K : 4.7 µg
Calcium : 35 mg
Iron : 0.37 mg
Magnesium : 17 mg
Phosphorus : 14 mg
Sodium : 1 mg
Zinc : 0.15 mg
Potassium : 232 mg
This from Nutrition-and-You.com
The phyto-chemical compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
Dried figs are excellent sources of minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc.
Searching recipes I found many which include unique flavor combinations to make jams and baked goodies. They are also used in main dishes. Search around for some recipes and you’ll see.
This recipe includes thyme which I thought would be interesting.
Here’s my own rendition of this fig bar recipe from Fine Cooking.
The result was a buttery fresh, delicately crumbly, fruit pastry.
Fig Bars with Thyme
Ingredients – Pastry
1 C all-purpose flour
½ C whole wheat flour
½ C light brown sugar
¼ C organic sugar
¼ t salt
½ t baking powder
7 T butter – chilled
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla
In a large bowl combine flour, sugars, salt and baking powder. Using a cheese grater, grate the chilled butter into the flour mixture and combine to make large crumbs. Add the yolk and vanilla. When mixture holds together upon pressing, it is ready. Separate 1/3 of the mixture (to be added to nuts for the topping) and flatten and press the remaining mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet in a rectangular shape.
Tip: keep ice water nearby in case the mixture is too dry.
Ingredients – Filling
1 ½ – 2 lbs. ripe organic figs
¼ C water
¼ C sugar
7 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 t lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
Infuse ¼ cup of water with the thyme, lemon zest and lemon juice by boiling for about 5 minutes. Pour through a strainer then add the liquid back to the pot; add the sugar cook and dissolve the sugar. After sugar is dissolved add the figs and cook until they are soft about 20 minutes. Let cool then process in a food processor.
Ingredients – Topping
½ C almonds (or another favorite nut)
2 T organic sugar
1/3 of pastry mixture from above
Grind nuts and sugar in a food processor until fine. Add the pastry mixture to the nut mixture to make the crumb topping then add on top of the fig layer.
Bake at 350 F for about 25-30 minutes
A bit of sci-fi here…
The cookie-like, buttery, pastry crust.
The fruity, fig filling — what makes this recipe!
Spreading the main ingredient!
Making sure it gets onto every inch…
And it did!
The nutty, crumbly mixture tops it off!
Three layers of fresh, yumminess!
The finished bars…
Go really well with coffee, a glass of milk or all on their own.
This just in: my colleague, Linda, browsed my blog and made the recipe above. She brought in samples of her efforts and they were spot on, good! Now who’s next?