The ancient fig. It is reported that figs first appeared some 11,400 years ago thereby making it the earliest domesticated crop. One bite of the heavenly sweet taste of a fresh fig and one immediately understands why.
Given that I have been on a homemade ricotta kick lately (see recipe in earlier blog under ‘Recipes’ page), I have been scooping my fresh ricotta on any and everything I can think of. And nothing compares to the wonderful fresh creamy taste of homemade ricotta paired with figs, picked fresh from the tree. I have been patiently growing a little fig tree in a pot for the past 3 years. My climate does not allow me to keep this beautiful tree outside year around without some rather heroic measures to keep it safe (wrapping and covering for the winter). So each year, I lug my fig tree out and then back in as the climate cools. I was so excited to see little baby figs sprout in only its second year and promptly scheduled una festa to celebrate my “fig harvest” in the fall. Although my harvest amounted to little more than 8 figs :o), my rather patient family savoured a heavenly taste of fig (albeit rather tiny taste) direct from my little tree. There is so much to do with these little treasures – below is one of my favorite antipasti. You can also halve the figs, stuff with a small bit of gorgonzola (or other cheese like goat), and wrap in small piece of prosciutto. Arrange on a platter of decorative lettuce (or fresh fig leaves if you are lucky enough to own a fig tree) and wala – simple, fast yet elegant.
This yummy crostini recipe is very quick to pull together and never fails to elicit sighs of pleasure with every bite. The fresh figs are an absolute must but if you have neither the time nor the inclination, store bought ricotta works just fine. Enjoy!
Crostini with Fresh Figs, Ricotta and Balsamic Reduction
Whole milk ricotta (homemade -see ‘Recipes’ page; or store-bought)
1 cup balsamic vinegar (does not have to be high end; just be sure no additives or colorings)
Make crostini: Place oven rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into thin, diagonal slices. Spread slices on ungreased baking sheet and toast until lightly brown, turning once. (5-10 minutes)
Make balsamic reduction: Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Put over low heat and simmer. Reduce until slightly syrupy – do not over-reduce as it will thicken further as it cools. Be careful not to put over high heat or it will taste scorched. You can place any extra in a squeeze bottle and store in refigerator for use later. Note: You will need to let it come back to room temperature before using.
Assemble: Slice figs in half. Take one crostini, slather with ricotta. Tuck fresh fig half in ricotta. Arrange on platter. Drizzle balsamic reduction over crostini and serve!