Fresh. Figs. Am I dreaming? It still doesn’t feel real to have figs in my fridge. The first time I ever tried figs was at a farmer’s market off the mountain, and I fell in love. However, if you have ever tried to buy figs in the eastern United States, you’ll know that it is like trying to dig up gold with a shovel. I had resigned myself to never tasting these sweet delicacies again…but this weekend, my mom told me that my aunt had a fig tree and wanted to know if I could use them for anything. Could I use figs for anything? I could use them in everything! So I got my fresh figs, and they were just as wonderful as I had dreamed.
As far as local produce goes, this is as local as it gets: my aunt got them from her friend off the mountain and my grandpa brought them up to me (thank you guys!) Though she picked them only a day or two ago, they were already getting soft by the time I got my them, which makes me wonder how any manage to make it to the grocery store aisles at all. If you have never tried fresh figs before, their taste is worth the price—creamy, caramel-y, and delicately sweet—and their pairings are endless. So far I have loved cheese, balsamic and olive oil, honey, arugula, hazelnuts, and chocolate (but what doesn’t go with chocolate?) However, throughout all of them, the fresh figs have been the shining star. In this recipe, they glow alongside tangy balsamic and a gooey gruyere polenta infused with rosemary and peppery arugula, which all go beautifully with the delicate flavor of the figs. I hope you love this recipe as much as I did, and if you’re making it with fresh figs, send me some!
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 2/3 cup water or milk of choice (or up to 1 cup if you want creamier polenta)
- 3/16 cup dry polenta
- 1-2 small sprigs rosemary, minced
- About 1/8 cup gruyere (add more or less to taste)
- Handful of arugula
- Optional: small handful of fennel micro greens or fennel fronds
- 4-5 small fresh figs
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- Olive oil and balsamic for drizzling
- In a small saucepan, bring milk or water to a boil along with a pinch of salt. Stir in polenta and rosemary, reduce heat to low and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes
- Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add gruyere, arugula, and (optional) fennel
- Cook 5-10 minutes more, stirring very often (it gets super sticky here!) If polenta gets too thick, stir in more water or milk
- Once polenta reaches your desired consistency, remove from heat and top with figs, walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic