Welcome fall with tasty, gourmet fig dishes


In honor of National Fig Week, we met up with three local chefs to see how easy it is to get "figgy with it."

"You have a nice sweetness, and it's kind of a transition from a lot of those summer fruits into a fall fruit," said Tim Goodell, executive chef of Public Kitchen at the Roosevelt Hotel.

Goodell sings high praises for figs, which offer a unique taste and texture.

"We start with goat cheese in a mixer at home. A KitchenAid would work perfectly fine. As it slowly whips, we slowly add cream so it develops a little bit of lightness to it," said Goodell.

He makes a fabulous salad with a smattering of duck prosciutto, candied walnuts and a walnut vinaigrette.

At Fig & Olive on Melrose Place, there's no end to the way chef Pascal Lorange works with figs.

"We roast them, we toast them, we infuse them," said Lorange.

In one appetizer, Lorange roasts black mission figs, bakes goat cheese in fig leaves, with a vinaigrette of olive oil balsamic vinegar and fig puree, and even a fig chutney with orange onion and thyme.

"You just take a little bit of fig chutney. You take a piece of figs - fresh figs -and you cover with warm goat cheese," said Lorange.

For something a bit more savory, Napa Valley Grille's Manuel Ortega offers a fig jam that's spiced with cloves and a little bit of nutmeg to his pork chop.

There's also dessert.

"I made a sweet flatbread with some caramel apple butter on the bottom instead of the sauce, and some triple creme brie, a little goat cheese, and some figs and on top," said Ortega.

Nutrient-wise, figs have 5 grams of fiber per quarter cup - that's huge. It has a nice dose of iron, calcium and potassium along with antioxidants found in wine and chocolate.

Fall is fig season, so it's a good time to try out some of these recipes. It's also nice to know that figs are actually grown right here in the Central Valley of California, so you'll be pleased to know you'll be buying local.

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