I love figs. Most people’s exposure to figs comes from that “Newton” cookie and not from the sweet, succulent fruit harvested fresh from the tree. I must admit for years I fell into this category. It was not until we had an in-home Nanny of sorts, Hazel who helped care for Emily when she was little. Hazel had an enormous fig tree in her yard and she gladly shared its bounty.
Some years ago, Emily and I were making our way through a Farmer’s Market in Atlanta and ran across a farmer selling fresh Black Mission figs. But it’s how they were sampling these figs that took this beautiful fruit to an incredible place. Figs paired with goat cheese, basil and preserves. I don’t know who thought of it but it is genius!
Figs prepared this way make an elegant and delectable appetizer or a unique side for brunch or dinner. Black Mission figs are a favorite but other varieties are equally delicious. Fresh figs can be found in markets beginning in mid-late May and available through late November into December. Select figs that are somewhat soft; if they are hard they’re not ripe and won’t be sweet. Buy them fresh, only a day or two before you plan to use them as they continue to ripen and can spoil quickly. The portions listed will make 12 large appetizers or 24 small. Adjust to fit your needs.
Figs with Goat Cheese, Basil and Fruit Preserves
12 fresh Black Mission figs
12 fresh large basil leaves, rinsed and dried (24 leaves if you’re cutting the figs in half for smaller servings)
1 small package (4 ounces) honey goat cheese, softened slightly at room temperature (If honey goat cheese is not available, plain goat cheese will also work.)
Mixed fruit preserves, or your favorite berry preserve
Rinse the figs and pat dry. With a sharp knife, slice through the fig, about ¾ of the way leaving the base of the fig intact. (You can leave the stem or trim, whichever you prefer.)
Take a basil leaf and gently place about ½-1 teaspoon of the goat cheese in the middle of each leaf.
Gently tuck the goat cheese filled leaf into the middle of the figs.
Place the figs on a serving tray and top with about one teaspoon of the preserves. If you want a smaller serving, you can cut the figs into halves, lay a basil leaf with the goat cheese on top, and finish with a dollop of the preserves.
These can be made 2-4 hours in advance, just keep covered and chilled until ready to serve. You can refrigerate any figs you have leftover, the basil leaves will wilt slightly but the taste is still divine!