Signs of Summer – Early Figs

All of the fruit trees at CasaLana are loaded with fruit – cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, pears, apples – but the crop that excites me the most is the abundance of figs I see.  There are two harvests of figs each year – the first , called a breba, is usually a lighter crop. It is from the growth of branches that sprouted the prior year. I first learned about this from my friend Marie Simmons when she was teaching a ‘Fig Heaven’ class at CasaLana Gourmet Retreats. With 6 fig trees on the property, it truly is a fig heaven. The figs from this ‘breba crop’ are what you will be seeing in markets very soon and they will be available for a few weeks. The second more abundant harvest is in late summer and early fall.

One of my favorite things to do with figs (besides eating them right off the tree) is to grill them and glaze with a balsamic reduction. If you love proscuitto or pancetta, you can also wrap the figs with it before you grill them. I like to use these to top a salad of just harvested baby greens tossed with a light balsamic vinaigrette. The finishing touch is some crumbled blue cheese. These flavor profiles – figs, balsamic and blue cheese – have a great affinity for each other and are just meant to be together. I’ll be adding a recipe on the website soon for Grilled Figs and Balsamic Glaze. They will also be featured in many dishes we make in the hands-on classes over the summer. Maybe I’ll do another ‘Fig Heaven’ themed class in the fall. Look for the recipe and class updates at Gourmet Retreats.

I anxiously await the full harvest in late summer so I can replenish the supply of Spiced Fig Preserves and Apple-Fig Chutney that is available at CasaLana and in the on-line store Culinary Essentials.


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