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Fig Heaven: 70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit

Fig Heaven: 70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit

4.1 7
by Marie Simmons

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They come fresh or dry, in yellow or purple, from California and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. They are in restaurants, supermarkets, fruit stands, backyards, and inside some very famous cookies. What are they? They're figs — one of America's favorite fruits.

From Mission and Kadota figs to Adriatic and Calimyrna varieties, award-winning


They come fresh or dry, in yellow or purple, from California and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. They are in restaurants, supermarkets, fruit stands, backyards, and inside some very famous cookies. What are they? They're figs — one of America's favorite fruits.

From Mission and Kadota figs to Adriatic and Calimyrna varieties, award-winning cookbook author Marie Simmons leaves no fig or fig leaf unturned in this extraordinary book about this most extraordinary fruit: Fig Heaven.

Figs are harvested in late summer and early fall, but, fortunately for us, they are easily dried and packaged, so they're available all year long. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, plump, fragrant figs are guilt-free indulgences that can be enjoyed in countless ways.

Fig Heaven is an inviting, comprehensive cookbook offering 70 recipes for both fresh and dried figs. They range from appetizers, salads, and sandwiches to entrées and desserts.

On the savory side, you'll find Open-Faced Dried Fig and Melted Blue Cheese Sandwiches; Fettuccine with Fresh Figs, Lemon, and Rosemary; and Lamb Pilaf with Artichokes and Dried Figs. If your sweet tooth needs some real satisfaction, there's a Fresh Fig and Peach Crumble, Dried Fig and Walnut Biscotti, and Molten Chocolate Roasted Figs with Vanilla Custard Sauce.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her previous cookbooks (The Good Egg; Rice, The Amazing Grain; etc.), Simmons proved she could make an art out of a single ingredient. Now she takes on the historically significant, sensual and delectable fig. As in her earlier works, Simmons discloses the fabled history and resplendent diversity of a little-scrutinized food. When it comes to recipes, the author does not shun proven favorites, such as Classic Fig Drizzle (a honey, balsamic vinegar and rosemary dressing for figs), or Fresh Fig Tart, a summer choice. If the sugared decadence of ripe figs has a natural partner, it's the salty richness of cured pork, and Simmons makes a point of including several recipes that play up the combination to the hilt: Bacon-Wrapped Wine-Poached Dried Figs, Dried Fig and Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Sauce, and Fresh Fig Risotto with Prosciutto di Parma. Equally alluring-if less expected-are Pan-Braised Duck Legs with Marsala and Fresh Fig Jam, and Dried Fig Cinnamon Scones. Part of a fig's considerable charm is its ability to seem equally comfortable in both sweet and savory settings, or in any part of the menu from soup to nuts. Unfortunately, figs have a short season, finicky growing conditions and are highly perishable. These factors make fresh figs pricey and narrowly available, unless, like Simmons, readers live in southern California and can grow a fig tree in their backyard. However, Simmons does offer plenty of recipes that call for easily obtainable dried figs. 8-page color insert. Agent, Judith Weber. (May) Forecast: Although Morrow plans a national broadcast and print media campaign, Simmons's cookbook is likely to resonate primarily with cooks on the West Coast, as that's where Simmons lives and writes, and it's where figs are most abundant. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Simmons is a food writer, Bon App tit columnist, and author of numerous cookbooks, but it wasn't until she moved to California five years ago that she realized she had been "fig-deprived" for most of her life. With a fig tree in her own backyard and a local farmers' market offering a bounty of the fruit from June through late September, she began her "fig odyssey," which resulted in this book. Simmons's recipes are always delicious, ranging here from Roasted Figs with Gorgonzola and Prosciutto to Fig-Stuffed Pork Loin with Fennel and Onions, along with an array of desserts. In addition, she has a friendly, knowledgeable style that is very appealing. Far more wide-ranging than its single subject might indicate, her latest book is recommended for most collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Fig Heaven

70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit
By Simmons, Marie

Morrow Cookbooks

ISBN: 006053849X

Open-faced Dried Fig and Melted Cheese Sandwiches

makes 4 servings

Inspired by my love of cheese and figs, I concocted this open-faced sandwich using a simple dried fig "jam" and slivers of my favorite cheese of the moment. I originally used French Comté, a smooth, nutty, full-flavored type of Gruyère, but if it's not available, a well-aged Gruyère, Fontina, Stilton, or even a mild Cheddar is a good substitute. If you are feeling carnivorous, fry up some halved strips of bacon and lay them over the fig mixture before adding the cheese. This recipe makes four sandwiches but is easily scaled down to make just one. It makes a nourishing winter lunch with some salad greens on the side. The jam will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks -- ready and waiting for your next fig-and-melted-cheese-sandwich attack!


8 ounces dried Calimyrna or Black Mission figs, stems trimmed, quartered (about 1 ½ cups)
Four ¼ to ½-inch-thick slices whole-grain rustic bread
4 to 6 ounces Comté, Gruyère, Fontina, or mild Cheddar cheese


  1. Combine the figs and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan and heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until almost all of the water has been absorbed and the figs are softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly.

  2. Transfer the figs to the bowl of a food processor and process until chunky smooth. Transfer the "jam" to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate until ready to use.

  3. Preheat the broiler.

  4. Lightly toast the bread on both sides either in the broiler or in a toaster. Spread one side of the bread with a thick layer (2 tablespoons or more, depending on the size of the slice) of the fig jam.

  5. Use a sharp knife or a cheese plane to cut off thick slivers of cheese, and lay them on top of the jam. Place the sandwiches on a pan and heat under the broiler until the cheese is soft and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Cut into pieces and serve at once.

Fig Sandwiches

GRILLED PIG N' FIG: Add a layer of sliced fresh figs to a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Choose thinly sliced Teleme, Camembert, Gruyère, Fontina, or Monterey Jack for the cheese, and layer with a slice of baked or cured ham.

OPEN-FACED FIGS AND CHEESE: Spread a thin diagonal slice of baguette with a creamy cheese (cream cheese, fresh goat cheese, Teleme, Camembert, Brie, Saint André, or Gorgonzola); add a layer of thickly sliced fresh figs and a few pieces of torn basil.

FIG AND PROSCIUTTO PANINI: Layer one half of a soft sandwich roll with thick slices of fig. Toss some arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, and a few grains of kosher salt. Place the arugula on top of the figs. Top with a folded slice of prosciutto and the other half of the roll.

Fresh Fig Tart

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

The buttery crust for this tart couldn't be easier. It's made in the food processor and then pressed into the tart pan -- no messing around with a rolling pin or worries about handling pastry in the heat of summer. Without fail, the crust is consistently tender. The fig filling is scented with orange zest and just a hint of cinnamon. Ginger-lovers might like the fig and ginger variation.


1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds (approximately) firm ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Confectioners' sugar
1 cup heavy cream, softly whipped, or 1 pint softened vanilla ice cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loose-bottomed tart pan.

  2. Combine the 1 ½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor motor running, gradually add the butter through the feed tube. Process until the mixture is crumbly.

  3. Stir the egg yolk and vanilla together in a small bowl. With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture through the feed tube. Pulse the mixture until it begins to pull together. (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle it with iced water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) The dough should be crumbly but not dry.

  4. Turn the dough out directly into the prepared tart pan. Gently press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan in a relatively even layer; the dough will have a rough surface. (The crust can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.)

  5. Reserve 8 to 10 of the figs for the topping. Cut the remaining figs into ½-inch pieces. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons flour, the orange zest, and the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl until blended. Add the cut-up figs and toss gently to coat them with the sugar mixture. Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared crust; top with any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.

  6. Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the figs are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven.

  7. Trim about ½ inch off the tops and bottoms of the reserved figs. Cut each fig crosswise into three or four ¼-inch-thick rounds. Carefully place the sliced figs close together on the surface of the tart, pressing them down gently into the hot fig mixture. Let the tart cool on a wire rack.

  8. Before serving, remove the rim from the tart pan. Slide the tart, still on the base of the pan, onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with sieved confectioners' sugar. Cut into wedges, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream if desired.

Fresh Fig Tart With Crystallized Ginger: Omit the cinnamon from the crust and the grated orange zest and cinnamon from the filling. Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger to the fig filling.

Fresh Fig and Blueberry Tart: You will need 1 ½ pounds of figs (any variety) and 1 ½ pints of blueberries. Use 1 pound of figs and 1 pint of blueberries for the filling. For the topping use 8 ounces figs and 1 cup (about ½ pint) blueberries, pressing the blueberries between the fig slices for the topping. Omit the orange zest and cinnamon.


Excerpted from Fig Heaven by Simmons, Marie Excerpted by permission.
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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Marie Simmons, former food editor of Cuisine, is a regular contributor to Woman's Day, Bon Appétit, and Good Food. She is the author of several cookbooks, including The Good Egg, The Amazing World of Rice, and Fresh & Fast: Inspired Cooking for Every Season and Every Day.

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Fig Heaven: 70 Recipes for the World's Most Luscious Fruit 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
EM166 More than 1 year ago
I love figs and researched a few before purchasing this one. I like that it doesn't have hundreds of recipes and it gives a nice range of sweet and savory.
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