Thursday, July 26, 2007
Sauteed balsamic figs
My parents have this giant fig tree in their backyard, and for the first 26 years they lived in their house no one ate the figs when they ripened in mid-summer. Well, for a brief period my Grandpa ate them, but he was really the only one. The rest of us, I guess, were used to purple figs, and so figs that started out green and stayed green upon ripening were suspect. The birds, however, were in on the secret and happy enough to have them all to themselves.
But a few years ago, my mom caught on to the fact that the figs were not only edible but delicious, and so now we all (or at least she and I) look forward to the summertime fig harvest.
And, even though I now know how the figs are supposed to feel when they're ripe enough to pick, I always play dumb so that my mom will say, "They should feel like balls." My mom is from Michigan, but I'm not sure that explains the accent she has pronouncing certain words, "balls" being foremost among them. She pronounces it more like "bawls," as if she's hung out with my Brooklyn dad for too many years.
My favorite thing to do with the figs is to wash them, slice them in half lengthwise, melt butter in a pan, add the figs open-side-down, add some salt and pepper, and saute them until they're warm. Then I flip them over, add a dash more salt and pepper, and saute them until the green skin gets a few golden patches. Then I add a tablespoon or two of balsamic, flip the figs back over (so that they soak up the vinegar a bit), and wait about 20 seconds (for small batches) until the balsamic vinegar thickens into a sauce.
If I'm feeling fancy, I'll slice some Prosciutto ribbons to put over it, but most of the time I just eat them alone. They're nice appetizers, too, though I'll also eat them for breakfast.