March 2018 Fig Focus

California Fig, Spinach Grilled Cheese with Brie

Have you ever tried a grilled cheese with spinach? It’s an easy way to eat more greens, and when paired with Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs, they both add extra flavor and fiber. One taste of this grilled cheese with Brie and you may never want to eat grilled cheese any other way.

California Fig, Spinach Grilled Cheese with Brie

Serves 4

1. In a large skillet, melt 1/4 tablespoon butter. Add onions and salt, and cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes. Remove onions and set aside.

2. In same skillet, melt 1/4 tablespoon butter. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add spinach and stir until wilted.

3. ONIONS OPTION: You can skip cooking the onions separately. If so, then DICE the onions, and add them to the skillet 2-3 minutes before adding the garlic.

4. Lay 4 slices of bread on a flat surface. Spread cheese equally across all 4 slices of bread. Top with figs and then spinach mixture, all spread equally across bread slices. Cover each with top slice of bread, and butter the outside of the top slices.

5. Turn on heat to medium. When skillet is warm, add sandwiches, buttered side down. 

6. Place another clean skillet on top of sandwiches, and press down. You should hear a little bit of sizzle. Toast bread for 3 minutes. Remove top skillet, and butter the bread. Carefully flip sandwiches over, and replace the clean skillet on top. Toast for another 3 1/2 minutes. 

7. Remove sandwiches and repeat with remaining sandwiches. Slice sandwiches in half, and serve immediately. 

NOTE ON CHEESE: I use 2 ounces of cheese per sandwiches. Of course, you can use more or less, to taste. With 2 ounces you won’t get the dripping, melty cheese, but the cheese still melts beautifully into the sandwich. 

Recipe and Photo by Karyl Henry

California Fig and Oat Soda Bread 

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish soda bread made with rolled oats – a very Irish ingredient – and Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs. It’s a cross between classic Irish brown soda bread and the richer, American version. White whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flours add whole grain goodness. Soaking the figs and oats in buttermilk helps guarantee moistness. Serve this loaf any time of day – toasted for breakfast, with a sliver of Irish cheddar for lunch, or as an accompaniment to your favorite soup or stew with your evening meal.

California Fig and Oat Soda Bread 

Makes 1 loaf (12 to 16 slices.)

  • 2 cups buttermilk (reduced-fat or regular) 
  • 1 cup Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Figs, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, chopped Figs and oats. Set aside to soften for 1 hour. 

2. Adjust rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 400°. 

3. In a separate large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. With pastry blender or clean fingers, mix in butter till butter is the size of small peas. Add Fig-buttermilk mixture, stirring to form a soft dough.

4. With lightly floured or oiled hands, knead the dough (it will be sticky) in the bowl, about 10 turns, and form it into a ball. (Or, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface to knead). 

5. Place ball of dough on a parchment-lined or oiled, foil-lined baking sheet. Pat to a 7-inch diameter circle. With a knife, cut a cross in the top of the bread.

6. Bake for 23 to 28 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through, covering with foil after 15 to 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Bread is done with internal temperature reaches 190° measured with an instant-read thermometer.  Cool thoroughly on wire rack before slicing.

Nutrition Information per serving:

  • Calories 186 
  • Fat 4g 
  • Cholesterol 7mg 
  • Protein 5g
  • Carbohydrates 34g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Sodium 322mg

Recipe and photo: Lorelle Del Matto

Spring Forward: Eat your Greens with California Figs

Health is wealth. This St. Patrick’s Day (and the rest of the year), find your lucky charm in nutrient-rich, vibrant greens, paired with California Figs. Discover how our dried figs from California add texture, sweetness and fiber to your favorite salads, smoothies, and main dishes full of leafy greens. Not sure where to start or skeptical about how those flavors might play well together? Start here. We’ve got ample ideas to inspire Spring to come into bloom early. And, speaking of early, since Easter will be here before you know it, stay tuned later this month to Facebook for an Easter ham live cooking demo that everyone at your holiday table will love.

Nutrition News and Tips

March is National Nutrition Month®

This March Valley Fig Growers Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs join with registered dietitians throughout the country to celebrate National Nutrition Month®. “Go Further with Food”, this year’s theme, focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. 

Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a real difference. Preparing your foods to go further, by planning meals and snacks in advance can also help to reduce food loss and waste. 

California Figs make a great choice throughout the day. Naturally sweet, no sugar added, and full of flavor, these whole fruits are a nutrition powerhouse of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting antioxidants. Keep California Dried Figs on hand and enjoy them right out of the package or as tasty, nutritious additions to many of your favorite recipes

Focus your energy this month and every month to:

  • Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  • Consider the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do. 
  • Continue to use good food safety practices.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.

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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