It’s been a rough couple of days. So many figs, so many dishes to try. Oh the pressure…
Figs roasted with preserved lemon and black peppercorns. Stewed in honey and red wine with cloves and slices of fresh ginger. Pierced with sticks of cinnamon…
But this one’s my favorite.
Guaranteed to bring sunshine into your heart at 6:30 AM, even if you did stay up most of the night, on the phone, waiting to speak with an actual human on your list of banks and credit card companies.
“You have a wonderful day, now,” warbled one robotron in the wee hours after stubbornly refusing to do more than “put a hold on” a filched card.
Who, exactly, said that corporations are people too?
I wonder whether any cookbook writer appreciates figs as much as Nigel Slater does. If, like Nigel, you’re blessed with an abundance of voluptuous figs from your own trees—so many that you can’t imagine just eating them warm from the sun—then his latest book, Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard, is for you.
This recipe riffs on a few of his ideas. Instead of marsala, I roasted our Marseilles figs in the last of a bottle of Broadbent vintage port, and in place of muscovado sugar, drizzled them with luscious local sourwood honey. For even more flavor, I tucked a stick of soft, citrusy Ceylon cinnamon between the figs (thanks, Taillevent!) and scattered strands of orange zest around them.
Slater serves his figs with cream. But I’m on virtuous kick, so I spooned my own figs over plain (but creamy) yoghurt. The contrast of the soft sweet fruit in honey and wine with the sharp tanginess of the yoghurt is positively stunning.
Still…I’d had a hard night. And there was a pint of vanilla ice cream, literally peppered with vanilla seeds, in the freezer.
It wouldn’t hurt to have dessert for breakfast, would it?
Roasted Figs in Vintage Port with Ceylon Cinnamon, Orange and Yogurt–or Vanilla Ice Cream
The idea for this recipe comes from Nigel Slater’s book, Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. Don’t even think of making it unless your figs are absolutely ripe, soft and sweet. As Slater writes of under-ripe rigs, “You might as well eat cardboard.”
The fragrance of the orange zest may overpower the figs if you use too much, so go easy the first time around. If, after the figs are roasted, you want more orange flavor, grate a little zest into the liquid while it is still warm.
To serve 3 or 4
9 to 12 ripe figs, depending on the size of your pan (I used an 8-1/2-inch x 8-1/4-inch ceramic roasting dish)
3 to 4 tablespoons runny honey, medium-light and fragrant
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons port wine
1-inch stick of Ceylon cinnamon
Strips of zest from ½ orange, bitter pith removed, cut into very thin slivers
Plain yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Set the oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut the stems off the figs. Using a sharp paring knife, cut each fig almost into quarters—only cut 2/3 of the way down the fig so that the sections remain attached at the bottom.
3. Arrange the figs in a small roasting pan leaving a little space between them. Drizzle the cut surfaces of each fig with a teaspoon of honey. Drizzle the remaining honey over the bottom of the pan. Place the cinnamon stick on the bottom of the pan between the figs.
4. Pour the port wine over the figs. There should be a scant 1/4-inch of liquid in the pan. Strew the slivers of orange zest over the figs and in the wine.
5. Put the pan in the oven and roast the figs for 15 minutes, until they are very soft and are beginning to collapse. Baste once or twice while they are cooking.
6. At the end turn the oven to Broil. Broil the figs for 5 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
7. Remove from the oven and let the figs cool in the wine to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
8. Prepare individual bowls of yoghurt (or vanilla ice cream) and top with 2 or 3 figs. Drizzle with a tablespoon or more of the port-honey mixture. Eat at once.