I don't even know what a fig is, to be perfectly honest with you. Price thinks it's a fruit, which it probably is. I've never eaten a fig, cooked a fig, or even seen an actual fig before. But for the last several weeks, it's felt like FIGS have been everywhere.
Southern Living had a spread on them. My aunt the pastry chef RAVED about them when we visited her in Connecticut. And Love & Olive Oil has been praising about them for weeks. So when I finally made it to Whole Foods on Friday, and there were figs on sale, curiosity took over and I brought a basket of them home.
Price's reaction? "Are you going to bring me figgy pudding?"
I knew the answer to that was "no," but I didn't know much else. What does a fig taste like? A fig newton? How do you cook it? Do you peel it? Do you chop it? What do you do?
So I searched through recipes (most of them for desserts, which I would be anxious to try were it not for the leftover cake from Price's birthday) and eventually decided to use one from Love and Olive Oil because goat cheese tends to make everything delicious.
Figs are pretty, aren't they?
I cut them in half, and pressed goat cheese onto them. It was messy. Next time I'll go for sliced goat cheese instead of crumbles ... but we make do with what's in the fridge, don't we?
Then I wrapped each half-fig in a slice of pancetta (the recipe called for prosciutto, which I did not have, but pancetta made a fine substitute). Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and into the oven:
15 minutes later, they came out bubbly and smelling so good ... the balsamic vinegar really kicked the whole thing up a notch.
They turned out so pretty! I served them over a sweet onion and summer squash risotto:
Price and I both approached our bowls apprehensively. Figs were new. Different. Purple. The first bites were exciting - the rich sweetness of the figs surprised us both, but in a good way. Overall, I would not have changed the figs except to maybe crisp up the pancetta a little bit more (everything was one texture, and that bothers me a lot) and put some balsamic on the figs before the goat cheese. The balsamic added so much, I just wish there had been more. Next time, I think I'll serve them with a nice green salad (and a glass of sweet red wine) instead of the risotto. The risotto was delicious, but everything was just mushy and lacked a brightness that something crisp and fresh brings to the plate.
So figs are strange little things: super sweet, but appropriate for something savory. I'm anxious to try them for dessert ... roasted up with honey and served with vanilla ice cream. Yum!