Plump, sweet and delicately perfumed, figs combine well with many sweet and savoury dishes. I still remember the first time I tasted them, while on holiday in Sicily, tearing through the dark purple skin to reveal the crimson flesh inside.
Figs are a great source of fibre, which helps care for our digestive system. They also provide prebiotics – a form of carbohydrate that the beneficial bacteria in our intestines can use as fuel. Eating foods rich in prebiotics promotes the growth of important microbes in our gut.
This recipe is very flexible. Experiment with the flavours you add and if you are serving the figs as part of a savoury dish, reduce the honey and replace the red wine or Masala with balsamic or sherry vinegar. Serve with baked goat's cheese, Parma ham, or a generous dollop of Greek yoghurt or mascarpone.
Recipe created by Nourish cook and Dietitian, Clare Gray
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15-30 minutes
500g fresh figs
a few stems of thyme
3 tablespoons Masala, Madeira or red wine
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons honey
2 strips of lemon zest
1 strip of orange zest
• Preheat the oven to 200°C.
• Gently wipe the figs with a damp kitchen towel and remove the top of the stem. Slice the figs in half lengthways.
• Place the figs in a single layer in a large baking dish.
• Add the thyme, Masala, water, honey and zest to the dish; mix well to coat the figs.
• Cover with foil and roast for 15-30 minutes. Softer figs will need less time to roast.
• When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or chilled; they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.
Figs do not ripen after they are picked, so avoid any that are hard or bruised. They should be soft and give slightly when they are gently squeezed.
Oven-roasting helps to improve figs that aren’t quite perfect, but very under-ripe ones will never be good.