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By Megan Thompson
Figs. Seriously. Smooth outside, soft centre, crunchy seeds, they are my favourite. And I think because they are in season for a short time, it just makes them even more special.
Luckily we have hit this fabulous time of year here, and luckier still I have access to fresh figs in my garden! Okay, technically it’s my neighbour’s tree, but I am only taking what is on my side of the fence, and what I can reach…with a ladder…ha ha.
So why are figs so great? Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, figs contain vitamin A, C, E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc and iron among other deliciousness.
This combination of nutrients makes them particularly good for male fertility for one thing, and the fact that they usually grow in pairs on the tree gives you a bit of a clue as to what part of the male body they are helpful for!
They are the richest source of calcium among all fruit too, particularly when they are dried – try to buy organic ones though to avoid the sulfur dioxide that is used on conventional ones (as with a lot of dried fruit) which may give you digestive discomfort or respiratory symptoms if you are sensitive. Figs are also a wonderful source of fibre.
If you have never tried fresh figs – you really need to put that in the calendar! I find it hard to get past just eating them as is, but if you can, there are so many things you can do with them.
On breakfast porridge or granola, in your smoothie, as jam, in salads, stuffed with goats cheese, with yoghurt, in baking, poached, really just any way they are fab. They come in different shades depending on the variety.
So far with my fig haul, I have baked, smoothie’d, eaten straight up, and made these baked eggplant pizzas. I saw an eggplant pizza like this on Pinterest ages ago, so here is my version.
Roasted Fig and Eggplant Pizza Recipe
Makes 5-6 ‘pizza slices’
3-4 fresh figs
8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
3-4 tbs soft goats cheese (or a plant based cheese if vegan or dairy free)
2 spring (green) onions
A handful of fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano)
A few tablespoons of pesto (I had some made up in the fridge – it can be any kind, if you don’t have any to hand, mix up 3-4 tbs olive oil with a crushed garlic clove , a handful of nuts – any kind, and half a bunch of basil).
Slice the eggplant lengthways into 5-6 slices – this will depend on the size of your eggplant. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the slices, and drizzle with a little oil, and place on a baking tray at 170 degrees C (340F) and bake until the slices are soft when you push a fork into them – or to your liking. If you have a griddle pan you can grill the slices first to hasten up the process and also give them the pretty grill lines.
Once your eggplant is cooked (I wish I had taken more notice of how long this was – sorry – perhaps 25 minutes?), pull out the tray and add the rest of your toppings except for the herbs and onion. Return to the oven for a couple of minutes until the tomato is slightly cooked, and then remove. Serve topped with the herbs and onion either on their own or as a side.
And that’s it. Other veg would also lend themselves well to masquerading as pizza bases – cauliflower slices or sweet potato would be great.