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My grandfather’s hobby and passion was his garden. Two fig trees stood at the head of the garden next to his beloved grapevine covered terrace. One was green and the other purple figs. We watched as they matured and their beautiful tropical foliage gave the garden an exotic look. Artists have painted the fig leaf to depicted modesty. But the fruit is sweet and alluring.
My grandfather would cover them with burlap and bury the trees in the ground during the winter. We watched this ritual and thought this was so strange, but they are delicate and susceptible to frost damage.
Vegetable and fruits are a main part of our diet and using fruits in the main course of a meal is one way of incorporating them into your diet and getting children to enjoy them. I think figs are one of these foods that many people don’t experience and they don’t know what they are missing.
Figs are very versatile and pare well with meats, breads and desserts. They can be canned, made into jams, dried or in cookies such as cucitdati (Sicilian stuffed cookie). Make a a tart, cake or poached as in this recipe, there are many ways to prepare them. Their sweetness adds an exotic dimension to a meal.
This recipe is so easy anyone could make it and with a little cinnamon ice cream it is dream of a dessert.
Poached Figs in Red Wine
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 people
8-10 ripe fresh figs
1 bottle red wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Skin of a lemon
Skin of an orange (optional)
1 Star Anise
Put them in a saucepan, pour the wine and add the cinnamon stick, skin of the lemon, star anise and add the sugar. Cover the pan and cook at medium high temperature for 10-15 minutes. Turn the figs around so that all sides are stained red. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Test the figs with a skewer. If it goes through easily they are done. Remove the cinnamon stick, star anise and lemon.
Remove them from the pan and add the butter and reduce the wine down to about 1/2 cup. The figs should not be too sweet and usually don’t need extra sugar. The butter will make the sauce glisten and will give the sauce a warm buttery taste.
They can be served hot or at room temperature. When you are ready to serve, place 2-3 figs in a glass or decorative dish and dribble the wine sauce over them. Or scoop some cinnamon or vanilla ice cream in a bowl and add the figs with dribbles of the wine sauce.
Note: reduce the sugar and serve the figs with a main course of game, pork or chicken.