I put figs in the same camp as black licorice: People love them—or hate them. There never seems to be a middle ground.
If you’re in the first group, then man-oh-man, are you in for a treat.
Personally, I love figs. (And black licorice, if you’re keeping score.) They’re sweet; they’re earthy. Not to mention, they’re also nutritional powerhouses. Fresh figs are a great source of vitamins B6 and K, manganese, potassium, and fiber.
Ya, ya, I know it’s questionable to call them healthy when they’re drenched in maple syrup…But still.
I think the only thing that would make these better is if they were sprinkled with crispy bits of bacon. (Hmm, now there’s an idea.)
I got on my most recent fig kick when I was testing recipes last month for my cookbook, Slushed. The Whiskey & Fig Gelato I came up with is now a house favorite. This would make an amazing topping.
These little babies are really simple to make. Just find the ripest figs you can. (I used black mission, but you could do this with Turkish, too.) Slice them in half. Drench them with maple syrup. Sprinkle with spices and roast for about 15 minutes.
As the figs heat up, they start to let out their luscious juice. It mingles with the maple syrup and creates a heavenly sauce that’s fragrant with thyme and black pepper.
How can you tell when figs are ripe?
Good question. A ripe fig will feel be soft to the touch—but not too soft. It should feel like a ready-to-eat peach or avocado. You want it to have a little give to the skin and flesh, but not feel mushy.
Figs are one of those fruits that need to be picked when ripe (they won’t continue to ripen after picked, like an avocado). For this reason, be sure you’re happy with the ones you bring home from the market, ’cause they ain’t gonna get any better on your counter.
What do you do with roasted figs?
The short and not-very-helpful answer is: What can’t you do with them?
The longer but still not very precise answer is: Roasted figs work well in both sweet and savory dishes. Here are a handful of ideas.
- Serve as part of a cheese plate with goat cheese, brie, Stilton, briny olives, and a loaf of crusty bread (oh and maybe some creamy roasted garlic for good measure)
- Use to top ice cream—or add to homemade ice cream in the last five minutes of churning
- Toss them into pancake batter
- Spread them on toast
- Nestle between the layers of an autumn spice cake
- Eat them straight out of the bowl. (Let’s face it, they’re delicous!)
You get where I’m going.
This recipe uses 1 lb. of figs and serves about 8 as an app. Scale it up or down to fit your needs.
Alrighty, To the ovens!
Maple Roasted Figs
1 lb. black mission figs (about 28)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper
Serves about 8 as an appetizer
Prep the figs
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Grab a fig.
Nip off his stem with a sharp little knife.
Slice him in half and put him on your prepared pan.
Repeat until you’ve assembled a happy little army of sliced figs.
Season the figs
Douse the figs with maple syrup.
Toss gently with your hands to coat. (I do all of this in one pan to save on dishes. You could certainly mix them up in a bowl, if you’d prefer.)
Sprinkle with thyme and freshly cracked black pepper. I only had dried thyme on hand, but by all means, use the fresh herb if you have it.
Roast the figs
Pop the pan into your preheated 375-degree oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the juice starts to run and they’re deliciously fragrant. You don’t want to cook them too long or they’ll turn to mush.
Yank the pan out of the oven.
Cool to room temperature on the pan. (The sauce will get thicker as it cools.)
Serve however you like (see above for suggestions). Enjoy!
Storing roasted figs
If you need to keep them, ideally store them covered, in a single layer on a plate. If you don’t have that much room to spare in the fridge, stack them up neatly in a container and scrape all that lovely syrup over them.
One warning about storing them like this. If you’re going for a big aesthetic bang with them, they may get a little squashed like this (but they’ll still be just as delicious).