Rich family traditions of fun and laughter shared around the Easter and Passover dinner table beckon for a fresh holiday spread. Try one that captures awe with new, inventive and delicious recipes. Greet your family and guests' fancy for flavor with the sweet and satisfying savor of figs. Figs add pizzazz and texture to salads; a hearty richness to whole-grain side dishes; and a pleasant, subtle contrast to such savory entrees as lamb, beef, pork, chicken or fish. Follow the featured recipes for simple, yet elegant holiday dishes.
Besides the sweet and full flavor that figs bring to the table, they are a healthy ingredient with dietary fiber, rich complex carbohydrates and such essential minerals as potassium, iron and calcium.
While shopping, look for Mission figs, which are sweet and dark purple, or the lighter Golden figs with their firm texture and nutty flavor. Both varieties work equally well in recipes.
Explore many more delicious fig recipes by visiting www.valleyfig.com.
Braised Chicken With Fennel and Dried Figs
1 fennel bulb, about 12 ounces
Trim stem end and dark green tops from fennel; reserve a few fronds for garnish. Cut fennel bulb lengthwise into quarters; cut across into 1-inch pieces. Chill in a bowl of iced water 20 minutes; drain. Place figs in small bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand 10 minutes; drain and cut in half. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat butter and olive oil in large deep skillet until sizzling. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a side dish as it browns. Leave a thin film of oil in bottom of pan; discard remaining oil. Add fennel, leeks and carrots to pan. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add figs and fennel seeds to pan. Cook, stirring, until cut sides of figs are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chicken broth and wine. Heat to boil; boil, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and juices to pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. With slotted spoon transfer chicken, vegetables and figs to warmed serving platter; cover to keep warm. Boil juices over high heat until reduced and slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour juices over chicken; garnish with fennel fronds and serve. Serves 4.
*Can omit butter and increase olive oil to 2 tablespoons, if desired. Fig Heaven (William Morrow, 2004) by Marie Simmons.
8 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 375 F. Combine figs, walnuts, sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Lightly brush 1 phyllo sheet with butter; keep remaining phyllo dough covered with a damp towel. Place another sheet on top and brush with butter; repeat with remaining sheets. Cut into 12 equal squares. Place 2 tablespoons fig mixture in center of each square. Gather and crimp edges of phyllo dough around filling to form the "nest." Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove. For honey syrup, combine all ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Drizzle 1 teaspoon over each nest. Makes 12 nests.
1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts or slivered almonds, divided
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325 F. Finely chop 1/2 cup nuts; set aside. In food processor, combine remaining 1 cup nuts and sugar. Process until nuts are finely ground. Add egg white and extract. Process until dough forms a ball. Remove dough to a separate bowl (dough will be a little sticky). With lightly oiled hands, mix in figs. Form dough into 20 (about 1-inch) balls. Roll balls in chopped nuts. Place on large greased baking sheet. Flatten balls to 1 1/2-inch rounds. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, just until edges and bottoms of cookies are light golden brown; do not overbake. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Remove from sheet to wire rack to cool completely. For chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate in double boiler over simmering water, stirring often. (Or melt in small microwave-safe bowl in microwave oven on 50 percent power 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.) Drizzle over cookies. Makes 20 cookies.
Roasted Salmon With Caramelized Onions, Figs and Wine
2 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 F. Swirl olive oil in bottom of medium nonstick skillet. Add onions and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove cover; cook, stirring often, until onions are golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in figs, wine, broth, vinegar and rosemary. Increase heat to high; simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Place on lightly oiled heavy baking sheet. Roast in oven 7 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes. Sprinkle salmon with parsley. Serve with fig sauce. Serves 4.