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Quick and Easy Ideas for FIGS.

One of the most senior of fruit--it's been cultivated for at least 5,000 years--figs are sweet, flavorful, and go way beyond cookie filling. The Greeks believed that figs were a gift from Ceres to the city of Athens and treated them as a delicacy.

The fig tree was introduced to England in the sixteenth century, and by the reign of Elizabeth I, most English households kept dried figs to make sweet puddings. In fact, the Brits named Palm Sunday "Fig Sunday" and celebrated by eating Fig Pudding. There is a reference in Matthew 21:19 about Jesus seeing a fig tree upon his entrance into Jerusalem. A favorite quote from the Old Testament is "every man beneath his vine and fig tree will live in peace and unafraid."

The most treasured fig tree in the world is in Sri Lanka; it is said that this particular tree grew from a cutting sent from India in 288 B.C. The cutting is said to have come from the fig tree under which Buddha sat and meditated.

When you've gone to the market and selected plump, light green or mocha-colored figs, get ready for all the good stuff. These edible pods contain potassium, magnesium, iron, and copper, and have trace amounts of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, B6, and zinc. Put aside sports beverages; eat some figs!

Fresh figs are a delight to eat "as is," on their own. The entire fig is edible, so you can use figs as a transportable snack. If you like, you can chop them and add them to cereal, yogurt, rice, couscous, stuffing, muffin batter, or salad dressings. If you're looking for an elegant dessert, poach figs in red wine and served chilled.

Here are some ways to use fresh figs:

* Chop fresh figs and toss into cooking oatmeal or other hot cereal and in cooking grains.

* Roast whole figs with maple syrup. Allow figs to caramelize, and serve warm tossed with nuts or sorbet.

* For a fig tart, layer a cooked pie shell with thinly sliced fresh figs. Drizzle with a small amount of agave, rice syrup, or maple syrup and serve.

* Stuff figs with crumbled vegan cheese or crumbled, flavored firm tofu or seitan. Wrap in foil and bake until soft. Serve hot.

* Make fast fig chutney. Simmer chopped figs with chopped onions, raisins, and walnuts (if desired), fresh or dried orange zest, white pepper, and thyme until soft and jam-like. Serve as a condiment for everything!

* Roasting or grilling mushrooms? Add sliced figs for flavor and texture.

* Make a fig and rice pilaf. Saute minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, chopped chilis, and chopped onion until soft. Stir in rice and chopped figs, and allow to cook until rice is fluffy.

By Chef Nancy Herkoff, RD

Caption: Fig Tarts Photo by Hana from Nirvana Cakery

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Title Annotation:Vegan Cooking
Author:Berkoff, Nancy
Publication:Vegetarian Journal
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jul 1, 2019
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