At a cocktail party recently, the buffet included a big cheese board with fruit and crackers, jams, honey, sliced meats, etc. And it included dried figs, which brought back memories since dried figs were always a pantry staple for snacking. Most American kids probably associate the flavor with a certain figgy cookie we all grew up with. But seeing them also reminded me that the short but lovely fresh fig season is starting. We have them for only such a limited time that we need to make sure to enjoy every bit of them.
As tasty as the dried figs are, sadly they are not much to look at. Fresh figs, on the other hand, are arguably one of the most beautiful of fruits. They are native to the Middle East and, therefore, they figure heavily in the cuisine. Most of the you will find in supermarkets and traditional grocery stores in the United States are probably grown in California although they are now cultivated in many parts of the world. Peak season for the fresh figs is late summer to early fall but there is usually a small early crop at the start of the summer.
Because the early crop is so limited, you might only be able to find it at a well stocked gourmet store or a supermarket with a large exotic produce section. If you find these purple skinned beauties, be sure to select ones that are soft and ripe but not too mushy. If the weather is especially hot, it will not do this delicate fruit any good. But when figs are exactly right, they are nature's gift. Whether you are snacking on them as is or filling the fresh figs with labneh cheese and honey, you might think it seems a bit of a crime to throw them into a blender for a smoothie. But their peak season flavor makes it worth it. Save a few of the fresh ones to make a yogurt panna cotta as well for breakfast or dessert.
- 1/2 banana (ripe)
- 4 figs (fresh, sliced in half)
- 7 to 8 oz Greek style yogurt (one container, full or 2% fat)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk (depending on desired consistency)
Cut the tips of the fig stems off, slice in half and add to a blender or small food processor.
Add the banana half, Greek-style yogurt, honey, salt and 1/4 cup of the milk to the blender.
Puree until smooth and continue adding milk if you'd like a thinner consistency.
Note: If you would like a colder smoothie, peel the banana, cut in half, place in a plastic freezer bag and freeze before adding to the blender.