Green figs are here! I saw a basketful yesterday, soft, round bulbs of sweet flesh that remind me that although summer is almost over, a new season and a harvest of good produce is almost here too. Like purple prune plums and apples and these figs.
Green figs remind me of days long ago at Northwestern University, where I attended college. In September, after settling in for the year, I would take myself on Sundays to the local hotel, then known as the Orrington, sit down in the dining room, and order fresh, poached green figs in syrup, and eat them with a lot of cold cream. It was an indulgence no one else I knew cared for so I’d go alone, me and my newspaper, and have a quiet breakfast.
I loved those figs. They ushered in a year of art history and contemporary literature, of dormitory-living stress and impending snow. They helped get me ready for the year ahead.
The fig season didn’t — doesn’t — last long. So whether or not they conjure memories for you, they are memorably delicious. I prepared them yesterday in a honey-wine sauce spiced with cardamom. It was delicious. Here’s the recipe:
Honey Poached Figs with Lemon and Cardamom
1 cup sweet white wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
4 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
2 strips lemon peel, 2-inches long
8 large green fresh figs
1-2 tablespoons crushed pistachio nuts
Combine the wine, water, honey, cardamom pods and lemon peel in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the figs and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fruit is tender but not soft or mushy. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the figs to a dish and let cool. Strain the liquid, then pour the strained liquid back into the pan. Boil the liquid over high heat until it is syrupy. Let the syrup cool. Cut the figs into quarters and place 8 pieces on each of 4 dessert dishes. Drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with crushed pistachio nuts. (If the syrup has firmed, heat it for a minute or so over medium heat to liquefy it.). Makes 4 servings