Perfectly ripe figs are amazing eaten out of hand, but I also like to use them in very simple preparations, some raw and others cooked.
Figs with lemony mascarpone and honey: Figs topped with lemon-scented mascarpone (at right) are a delicious and easy dessert. Check out the recipe.
Prosciutto-wrapped figs: Wrap whole or halved figs in strips of paper-thin prosciutto for a simple starter.
Fig and manchego crostini: Coarsely chop fresh figs and toss with balsamic vinegar and kosher salt or fleur de sel (about 1/8 tsp. vinegar and a small pinch of salt per fig). Brush slices of baguette or ciabatta with olive oil, toast under a broiler, and top with thin slices of manchego, allowing it to melt a bit. Top each crostini with some of the chopped figs. Serve warm.
Green salad with figs and pancetta: Toss salad greens with a shallot vinaigrette made with fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar for sweetness and sherry vinegar for zip. Arrange the salad on plates, top with a few fig quarters, cubes of sautéed pancetta, and some crumbled toasted walnuts or pecans. Finish with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Fig and cheese platter: For an easy dessert, pass a platter of perfectly ripe fig halves, whole toasted almonds or pecan or walnut halves, and cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, dry Jack, aged Gruyere, manchego, or a creamy blue.
Bacon-wrapped figs: Make a fast appetizer by wrapping halved figs in thin-sliced bacon (half a slice per fig) and securing with a toothpick. Broil until the fat is rendered, the bacon crisp, and the fig hot.
Grilled cheese-stuffed figs: Make this vegetarian starter by cutting figs about halfway up from the bottom, stuffing with a morsel of Gorgonzola or Stilton, and gently pressing closed. Brush or spray the figs lightly with olive oil and grill just until they're hot.
Fig coulis: Purée fresh figs with balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, and salt and pepper. Add enough water to create a pourable consistency. Serve with poultry or pork.
Fig focaccia: Top raw dough with a little crumbled goat cheese and cover with sliced figs. Sprinkle with brown sugar, add a scattering of fennel seeds, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until browned.
Sautéed figs: For a simple but sophisticated dessert, melt butter and a little honey in a skillet. Sauté fig halves cut side down just until blistered and slightly browned. Finish with a squeeze of orange juice or a tablespoon of sweet wine and drizzle with the pan sauce.
Fig compote: Poach whole or halved figs in a lightly spiced syrup just until tender. Use a 1 to 2 ratio of sugar and liquid (water and wine or fruit juice), plus seasonings. Try rosemary sprigs, strips of orange zest, and a cinnamon stick; or the zest and juice of a lemon, half a vanilla bean, and either star anise or cardamom pods. Make the syrup first, then poach the figs. Remove the figs after a few minutes and then add back after the syrup is cool, so the figs don't get overly soft.
Need a little more direction? Try one of our fig recipes: