April 2014 Fig Focus

Easter and Passover

Easter falls on Sunday, April 20 this year. California Dried Figs enjoy great popularity this time of year because they work so well and taste so good in many Easter and Passover recipes.

Did you know that Palm Sunday is also known as Fig Sunday? Tradition has it that after Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, he came upon a fig tree. He cursed the fig tree because he was hungry and there were no figs on the tree, only leaves. Because of the cursing of the fig tree, eating figs is customary to this day.

Here’s one of our newest recipes from America’s Test Kitchen. We think it’s perfect for Easter. Don’t forget to keep a bowl of dried figs on hand, too.

Individual Pavlovas with Figs and Peaches

This recipe works with either fresh or frozen peaches. Substitute 2 cups frozen peaches for fresh. Makes 6.

Meringue

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup (7 oz.) plus 1 tablespoon sugar

4 each medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices

1 1/2 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and sliced thin

Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

For the Meringue: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whip the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed in a large bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium- high and whip the whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually whip in 1 cup of the sugar, about 1 minute. Continue to whip the whites until they are glossy and form stiff peaks.

Using a 1/2-cup measure, scoop six 1/2-cup mounds of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 1 inch apart. Gently shape each meringue into a nest using the back of the spoon. Bake the meringues until they have smooth, dry, and firm exteriors, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off and let the meringues sit in the oven until completely dry and hard, about 2 hours.

In a large bowl, gently toss the peaches and the figs with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Let the fruit sit at room temperature until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is juicy, about 30 minutes.

For the Yogurt Sauce: In a medium bowl whip the yogurt, vanilla, sugar and lime zest together.

To assemble, place the meringue nests on individual serving plates and spoon about 3 tablespoons yogurt sauce into each nest. Top with about 1/2 cup of the fruit, letting some fruit and juice fall onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Passover is the Jewish spring festival that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It lasts seven or eight days from the 15th day of Nisan. This year Passover begins on the evening of April 14 and ends on the evening of April 22.

Pistachio-Fig Macaroons

Our Pistachio-Fig Macaroons make a nice sweet treat for Passover. They have no flour or leavening.

1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs

1 1/2 cup raw, unsalted shelled pistachio nuts or slivered almonds

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg white

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract with almonds)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Remove stems and finely chop figs; set aside. Finely chop 1/2 cup nuts; set aside. In bowl of 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 from processor to 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. Top with chocolate drizzle, if desired.

Chocolate Drizzle: Melt 2 ounces chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in double boiler over simmering water, stirring often. (Or melt in small microwave-safe bowl in microwave oven on 50% power for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.) Drizzle over cookies.

“Try ‘Em, You’ll Like ‘Em” Healthy Lifestyle Tips

ast month, we shared tips about “The Super Three”. This month we’re “Going Fishing”.

Fish is an important part of a healthful diet. It’s an excellent source of lean protein, healthy omega-3 fats, B vitamins, vitamin D, and selenium. It’s also low in saturated fat. The strong and consistent evidence for benefits is so strong that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the American Heart Association, and others suggest that everyone eat fish twice a week.

Unfortunately, fewer than one in five Americans eats enough fish. Here are a few tips to help you eat more seafood.

  • Eat a variety of seafood. Include some that are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, herring, and sardines
  • Shellfish counts too
  • Put seafood on a salad or in a sandwich
  • Know your seafood portions to get the recommended 8 ounces of seafood a week; use these as guides: A drained can of tuna is about 3 to 4 ounces, a salmon steak ranges from 4 to 6 ounces, and 1 small trout is about 3 ounces.
  • Find Ten Tips at ChooseMyPlate.

Salmon-Fig Kebabs with Orange-Balsamic Glaze

6 to 8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers

2/3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 to 16 Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed

1 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large red bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or parsley

Cooked brown rice (optional)

Soak bamboo skewers in water to prevent burning when cooking kebabs. In small saucepan, combine orange juice, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add figs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut salmon into 1 1/4-inch cubes. Sprinkle on all sides with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cut bell pepper and onion into 1 1/4-inch squares. Remove figs with slotted spoon to separate bowl, reserving liquid in saucepan for glaze. Heat oven to 450°F.* Thread salmon on skewers, alternating with figs, bell pepper and onion pieces. Place on oiled rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 18 to 22 minutes, turning after 10 minutes, until fish flakes. While fish cooks, add cornstarch to reserved liquid in saucepan and stir with whisk until blended. Add olive oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and brush or spoon glaze over kebabs. Sprinkle with fresh thyme. Serve over rice, if desired.

*Or heat grill. Thread salmon, figs and vegetables on skewers as directed. Grill kebabs over moderate to low, indirect heat, turning frequently, until fish flakes.

Going Green Is Going Strong

The solar panels we recently installed are doing a great job—see for yourself using our Valley Fig Growers Green Link.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and tag us @valleyfig —we’d love to see what you’re cooking on Instagram and Facebook!

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