Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fascinating Figs

I've been running a series of French K.I.S.S. classes, where one of the dishes is Fig & Walnut Tapenade with Chevre. Using the Calimyrna figs, I recalled a chef on Victoria Island telling me that the flower of the fig is actually on the inside of the flesh. I thought this was interesting - wasn't really sure how that worked, but filed it away in my memory files, nonetheless.

I was mentioning this fascinating fact to participants of the class, and was met most with puzzled looks. Because I wasn't entirely sure about the whole story, I thought I should research it a bit more.

It turns out that not only is the flower on the inside, what we consider the fruit is actually a part of the flower, with the blossom opening just inside the stem. I thought this seemed peculiar enough, until I read about the pollination process. There are female & male fig trees, which, of course, have to be cross-pollinated (only the female trees produce the edible fruit/flower. This is achieved by only one specific creature, the fig wasp! What an amazingly particular set of players, all to produce a fruit, which isn't even a fruit.

Nature truly is a thing of wonder.
Here's the recipe:
Fig & Walnut Tapenade with Chevre
1 cup finely chopped Calimyrna figs (stems removed)
1/3 (or more) cup water
1/3 cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP chopped capers
1 TBSP red wine or balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal, lightly toasted
chevre (as much as you like)
Cook the chopped figs with the water until soft; you could also microwave them. Transfer to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chevre & baguette. Season, to taste. Serve at room temperature. Spread a liberal amount of chevre on each baguette slice & top with tapenade.

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