Throughout my childhood, my father always kept a bag of Fig Newton cookies around, stored in a cookie tin to preserve a ‘freshness’ I’m not convinced they ever really had. Did anyone else’s family keep those around? The cookie filling was a stale, flavourless echo of what a fig might once have tasted like (twice removed), made all the worse by that orange-essence-enhanced compressed sawdust casing that other, more generous people, might have called ‘dough.’
Needless to say, I wasn’t a huge fan.
Though I expected my tastes to change as time went on, I never really warmed to figs. Perhaps it was the knowledge (foisted upon me by an friend, reluctantly confirmed thanks to the internet) of their particular relationship with wasps? If you’re a fig lover, I highly recommend not researching further in that vein; trust me, ignorance truly is bliss.
But at Potentino, there are a number of fig trees on the property. Last time I was here, Charlotte and Alexander had us harvest some of the leaves and we used them to flavour a potato dish. I was surprised by how lovely it was — fragrant, and slightly herbal, and it lent this wonderful perfume to otherwise plain ol’ potatoes that had me wondering if I hadn’t given the fruit a fair chance. I returned to the trees, harvested a basket of fruit, and decided to give them the same treatment I use on less-than-impressive strawberries: cook them down in a splash of balsamic vinegar. They were delicious!
Back home, I was passing by the market the other day, and there were some figs on display that were just too gorgeous to pass up. I returned with a small container, gave them a rinse, and then optimistically bit into one.
Still gross, it turns out. Still pretty darn gross.
But I wasn’t going to throw out a bunch of perfectly ripe fruit, so I decided to try cooking them down again, this time in another sauce. I love pairing stone fruit with fresh herbs, particularly thyme, and I knew it would complement the figs so nicely. A little honey and butter later, I had a rich, golden sauce. Cooking the figs down made them soft and mellow, and the sharpness of the yoghurt rounded everything out perfectly.
So there you have it! A really quick, easy dessert. Just close your eyes, and try not to think about the wasps! 😉