- 3 lbs figs –freshly picked
- 1 Lemon –cut in half
- 4 ½ cups sugar
- 2 tsps. vanilla
- 1 ½ cups water
- Gently rinse figs and remove any little stems that are attached. Place figs in a large bowl filled with cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water in a pot that is large enough to hold all the figs.
- When the syrup is thick and clear –about 15 minutes, gently add the figs, vanilla and lemon. Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil for a few minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Once or twice during the process give the figs a stir to make sure none are sticking to the bottom of the pot. At this point I usually taste and adjust for sugar. When the figs are soft and the syrup has thickened, remove the figs from the stove and discard the lemon.
- Very carefully, using a large slotted spoon, add the figs to a blender jar and give a few pulses before adding more figs. (I put a towel over the lid and hold it down when pulsing hot stuff.) When all the figs are pulsed, add as much of the liquid as you wish to loosen the preserves and then pulse again.
- As the preserves cool, it will thicken. After all are blended, ladle into clean, hot sterilized jars. Let cool a little and refrigerate.
Note: The remaining juice is flavorful and sweet so I save it in the refrigerator and find other uses for it. We have several fig trees in our yard and sometimes they ripen faster than we can eat or share them. To save them from the squirrels, I pick and make preserves.
FRESH FIG SALAD
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbs. fig preserves –if available 3 or 4 fresh figs –sliced or halved, more as necessary
- 3 tbs white wine vinegar
- 2 tbs honey
- 1 garlic clove
- Salt and pepper –to taste
- Shaved cheese –your choice
- Pistachios –toasted and chopped
- Whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, minced garlic clove, salt and pepper, to taste, preserves, if available. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Serve over arugula, with prosciutto slices and shaved hard cheese of your choice such as Manchego.
- Top with fig halves and a sprinkling of pistachios or even walnuts.
NOTE: We have a mini fig farm in our backyard so now, as the figs are coming in it is a battle to get to them before the squirrels, chipmunks and birds. This is one of the easiest ways to enjoy the figs but we also make a good supply of Fig Jam.
PASTA WITH BROCCOLI RABE AND SAUSAGE
This recipe always brings me back to the days of meatless Fridays. The smell of the cooking broccoli rabe was pungent but the end result was rewarding. We would use LaRosa pasta and cut out the little square which when accumulated to a certain number could be redeemed for a dish with a floral design on it.
- 2 anchovy fillets –rinsed
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tb lemon juice
- 4 garlic cloves –minced
- 1 lb orecchiette – or your favorite
- Red peeper flakes – to taste
- 8 oz Italian sausage – casings removed, cut into¼-inch pieces
- 1 lb broccoli rabe – trimmed,cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 ½ tbs butter-unsalted
- ½ cup freshly grated cheese – your favorite
- Extra grated cheese for sprinkling
- Using the back of a spoon, smash anchovies on a cutting board into a smooth paste.
- Combine 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, anchovy paste and 1 teaspoon garlic in a bowl and set aside.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring until the pasta is al dente.
- Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta and return to the pot.
- While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
- When hot, add sausage and cook stirring until browned and cooked. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a plate topped with a paper towel. Leave the sausage drippings in the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, remaining garlic and pepper flakes to the skillet and cook stirring until fragrant.
- Increase heat to high and add half of the rabe and cook stirring often until wilted. Add remaining broccoli rabe and a pinch of salt and cook stirring occasionally until crisp and tender.
- Transfer broccoli rabe to a colander set in a bowl.
- Bring broth and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water to a boil in the now empty skillet over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to about 1 cup–4 to 6 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat and whisk in butter and reserved anchovy mixture.
- Add sauce, broccoli rabe, sausage and freshly grated cheese to the orecchiette and toss to combine.
- Add remaining cooking water, as needed, to adjust consistency.
- Serve immediately in bowls, passing extra cheese, to sprinkle on individual bowls.