Of course, your tastes change as you grow up (thank goodness or I'd still be living on a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches). And not too long ago, my taste buds were blown away by a fresh from the tree fig. I finally get it. Standing in the backyard of a friend's house, breaking open a perfectly ripe fig and biting into the soft flesh was one of those lightbulb moments for me. All of my Mom's hard work and frustration to get the figs on her tree to grow made complete sense to me. I fell in love.
Inspired by this recipe in Food and Wine magazine from Joe Bastianich. Makes enough for 2 servings.
For a printable recipe, click here.
This recipe can easily be adapted to a non-dairy diet by substituting the low-fat milk for soy or almond milk. You could even go vegan and switch out the honey for maple syrup while you're at it. In any case, tuck into a bowl as soon as you can because the fig season doesn't last long.
For the poached figs:
1 pint figs, halved
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, honey and vanilla to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit. Add the figs and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. The figs will keep, stored in their poaching liquid, in the refrigerator for up to a week. They can be used to top everything from oatmeal to ice cream.
For the risotto:
1 cup water
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 cup low-fat milk
2 tbs whole raw almonds
2 tbs fig poaching liquid
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, stir and cover. Simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and add about 1/4 cup of the milk, the almonds and the fig poaching liquid. Cook, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add another 1/4 cup of the milk and continue cooking. Repeat with the remaining 1/2 cup milk (added in 1/4 cup portions), stirring until the rice is cooked and the liquid is very creamy. Pour into two bowls and top with several fig halves and a drizzle of the poaching liquid. Serve warm.