With fresh figs at the market and friends in for dinner three nights this past week, I assembled a simple appetizer for everyone to enjoy with a glass of wine. Ever versatile crostini – crisp, thin, little toasts which I topped with fresh figs, soft goat cheese, a ribbon of Prosciutto and a drizzle of sweet Balsamic syrup. Our guests gobbled them down.
Fabulous Fresh Figs
The first time I had a fresh fig was in San Francisco while taking a food writing course. In a discussion about food I sheepishly admitted I had never tried fresh figs and was promptly handed one to try. I loved them at first bite.
Figs were something I didn’t grow up with. In contrast, my husband’s grandmother had a fig tree so huge they climbed it as kids. The prolific tree produced figs for breakfast and wonderful homemade fig jam. We are shaped by what we grow up eating, but it is never too late to learn.
Sweet and Tender
Sweet tasting with a tender skin and light crunch from the center tiny seeds, figs have a unique taste and texture. Of the many varieties, the black-purple Black Mission and lighter Brown Turkey figs are my favorites.
Perishable, So Use Quickly
Fresh figs don’t store well and are very perishable, which is why they are often dried. Buy them the day of serving or a day before at best, depending on ripeness. I’ve made this recipe with dried figs and even fig jam, but it’s best when fresh figs are available.
No Cooking-Assemble and Enjoy
With almost no cooking required, assemble and enjoy the amazing combination of flavors and textures in this easy appetizer and take advantage of fresh seasonal figs. You can even take the prepped ingredients to a party and assemble there for a fabulous offering.
For wine pairing, a friend had left us a bottle of a dry Italian white wine by Capestrano made from the Passerina grape. Served chilled, this crisp, pale, aromatic wine from Italy’s Marche region was refreshing; the perfect summer accompaniment to the fig crostini with classic Italian flavors.
Other links to information and recipe for fresh figs
Summer wouldn’t be the same without fresh figs, by Kyle Phillips
Spicy Fig Orange Microwave Jam, by Simply Recipes
Fresh Fig and Balsamic Dressing Recipe, by White on Rice Couple
This recipe is easily assembled as guests arrive. Bake crostini up to an hour ahead and place on a plate or platter. Allow the goat cheese to warm up for easier spreading and then top with a thin ribbon of Prosciutto, fresh fig quarters and drizzle with Balsamic vinegar syrup, which can also be made ahead. These crostini can be made for two, four or more. The recipe scales easily.
- 1 cup (240 ml) decent Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 large Sourdough or whole wheat baguette, about 10 ½ ounces (about 24 thin slices)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, as needed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, as needed (if making the garlic-oil butter)
- Granulated garlic (not garlic salt), as needed (I use Penzeys)
- Goat cheese, about 8 ounces for a large baguette, at took temperature for easier spreading
- 8 ounces of thinly sliced Prosciutto, sliced again into long thin ribbons to pile on the crostini
- Large fresh figs, washed, stem cut off if any, and cut into quarters top to bottom
- Balsamic Syrup
- If making the Balsamic syrup, do that first, even days ahead. It keeps forever stored in the pantry in a little squeeze bottle. Always good to have on hand.
- In a small saucepan (about 2 quart), place Balsamic vinegar. Bring to just a boil and immediately turn the heat down to a low simmer. Add the brown sugar, stir and reduce by about half. Syrup will thicken as it cools. When cool, place in a plastic squeeze bottle and store in the pantry.
- With a serrated knife, thinly sliced the baguette on an angle about 1/3” thick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- While oven is heating place butter and olive oil in a microwave safe container and melt 30-45 seconds over medium power covered with plastic film. When melted, stir in granulated garlic. Taste and adjust garlic for your preferences. This is a mixture I keep in the refrigerator at all times for lots of uses.
- 3) When oven is ready, lightly bush on oil-butter-garlic blend with a pastry brush. Bake crostini about 10-12 minutes on the middle oven rack, or until just golden. They will crisp up as they cool. Place on a plate or platter to serve.
- To Assemble
- Spread crostini with a little soft goat cheese, top with a thin ribbon of Prosciutto, top with a fig quarter. Right before serving drizzle with Balsamic syrup or Balsamic vinegar.