According to D. H. Lawrence, every fruit has its secret and the fig is no exception. This jewel of a fruit is one of the most delicious, yet overlooked fruits of summer. Alma, Brown Turkey, Celeste, Kadota and Mission are only a few of the varieties grown in South Carolina. The fig season is short and if you blink you might miss it!
Figs also have a very short shelf life, so if they are too ripe, cut off the stems (leave the skin on), cut into quarters then pulse in a mini food processor until smooth to make fig puree. Whole figs paired with an assortment of creamy Saint André, fresh farmer's cheese, herbed goat cheese then drizzled with honey, make a lovely cheese platter to complete a summer meal - this requires very little preparation but looks very elegant and festive.
Blue Cheese Risotto with Roasted Figs
by Carrie Hirsch
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
8-10 ripe figs, stems removed, cut into halves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely minced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely minced
1½ cups Carolina Gold Rice or Arborio rice, uncooked
½ cup dry white wine
4 ½ cups vegetable or low-sodium chicken broth, heated
8 ounces blue cheese crumbles
Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place figs, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. In a medium heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots and onions and continue to stir until soft. Add rice and stir until well coated. Add wine and 1 cup hot broth; bring to a simmer, continuing to stir until the rice absorbs the liquid. Add the remaining broth in 1 cup increments, stirring constantly, until absorbed by the rice. If rice requires a little more cooking, stir in more hot broth. Add black pepper to taste. Remove from burner then stir in half of blue cheese crumbles. Divide risotto between 6 bowls and top with roasted figs. Sprinkle with remaining blue cheese crumbles. Serve immediately.