Last summer I spent some time working in the kitchen at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley. I want to say that I picked up all sorts of knowledge, and I'm sure I did, somewhere in there, but the one thing I really remember is roasting figs.
It's the simplest thing - just halve the figs, drizzle with red wine, honey and vinegar, then roast for about 15 minutes. You can use them to top ice cream, yogurt, salads, toasts, you name it. Of course Chez Panisse has to do it way classy, in earthenware crocks in a rustic wood-burning oven, but even without all that, you'll get the same result.
Figs are the sexiest food in the universe. They're all over the history books, representing fertility, hedonism, desire and enlightenment. So add a little oomph to the dessert repertoire and roast up some of those late summer figs.
Chez Panisse Roasted Figs
Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 15 min Total Time: 20 min
1 pint of fresh black Mission figs (about 12)
1/4 cup / 60ML red wine
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs honey
1 tsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
Preheat oven to 425F / 220C. Trim stems and cut figs in half lengthwise. Arrange in a small baking dish, tightly packed with stem side facing up, all the figs facing one way.
Drizzle with wine, balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, til figs are heated through and liquids are bubbly and caramelized.
Let cool and serve with yogurt, vanilla ice cream or ricotta sweetened with honey. Also great on toast with a smear of goat cheese.