If your acquaintance with figs so far has been the familiar Newtons, you’re in for a delicious surprise—fresh figs. Soon to appear in northeast markets, fresh figs, with their honey sweet flavor and soft texture, are worth seeking out. Luscious, yet fragile, they should be eaten no more than a couple days after purchase. They should feel soft to the touch, yet not mushy. Store carefully in refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before eating.
Probably the most popular are the purplish Black Mission figs with light pink flesh. Calimyrna figs have a yellowish skin with a pale amber flesh. Kadota figs have green skins with a rosy-colored flesh and are less sweet than other varieties.
This lovely appetizer makes a perfect introduction. (Serves 4)
A 3 1/2 by 7-inch section of focaccia
Large handful of fresh pea shoots
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper
8 fresh figs, rinsed and stems removed
8 oz. prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
1. Cut the section of focaccia into two 3 1/2-inch squares. Cut each in half horizontally. Toast in a 400 degree oven for 2 minutes.
2. Toss pea shoots with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Slice figs vertically into quarters.
4. Place each focaccia square on a small plate.
5. Top each with a small bunch of pea shoots.
6. Arrange 8 fig quarters around pea shoots in a pyramid shape (see photo).
7. Divide prosciutto and arrange around focaccia squares.
Photographer Bill Brady