Figs for Fabulous Skin

Figs Figs are an ancient fruit that grew wild in the Middle East and  Mediterranean. Today, most of the  fresh figs in our markets   are from California.  While they are high in natural sugars, they  also deliver a payload of potassium, iron, and ounce for ounce, more calcium than skim milk.   But what makes figs a nutritional rockstar is that they are a delicious fiber delivery system.  Two little fresh figs  boast 4 grams of  high quality fiber.   This is great news since major studies have shown that fiber is one of the three top food factors associated with  fewer wrinkles and less aging. Fresh  figs,  available from June through September, are super fragile and last only a week after harvested.  In season  you will see  three types of figs:

* Black Mission figs- black/purple skin and pink flesh

* Kadota figs– Greenish yelow skin with purple flesh

*Calimyrna– large green figs

Dried figs are available all year round and are even higher in fiber than their fresh cousins.  I love to add them to chicken sautes, rice,  muffins and  turn them into  sweet, sticky preserves.

Using Figs in Your Kitchen

For an instant  appetizer, fresh figs are perfect wrapped with a sliver of prociutto.  At Eataly in New York City, I had an amazing crostini with fresh roasted figs, goat cheese and topped with a syrupy balsamic sauce .   I tried to duplicate it at home, but could not figure out the proportions.  At BlogHer in Chicago,  St Martin’s Press  presented their upcoming books and there it was- the trick that turned balsamic vinegar into a syrup  in the  soon to be published  book Kitchen Revelry by the gorgeous   Ali Larter ( remember her from Heros?)

Fig Crostini ( adapted from Kitchen Revelry by Ali Larter)

Ingredients: 1/2 baguette cut into 12 diagonal slices, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 fresh figs cut into  quarters, 3 ounces goat cheese, 1 cup balsamic vinegar, freshly ground black pepper

Directions:  First make the sauce.  Reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1/4 cup by simmering over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until it coas the back of a spoon. While this is cooking, cut each fig into quarters and roast in a 325F oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and raise heat to 425F. Place bread in a single layer on baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil and roast  for to minutes until light brown.  Remove from  the bread from the oven, and spread each with goat cheese, top with roasted fig segments and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

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