Oh, how I want to love figs. I am attracted to their shape and color, perfectly plump little bulbs, striated in violets and yellows, or hued in light green and dark purple. Soft and sensual to the touch and mildly aromatic, perhaps it’s their mildness that confounds me. Faintly sweet, yet nutty and vegetal, I find the fig elusive in flavor, its softness shrouding it like a mysterious woman in a cloak. I know there is more to the fig, and I want to discover it. I want to love it.
So, I found a ploy, or really a method, to reveal its secrets. By roasting figs in the oven, their taste and texture take on a whole new dimension. The fruit is coaxed from its shroud of vagueness, its natural sugars oozing and caramelizing, while its plumpness is reduced to a crispy intensity that bursts with flavor. There is no coyness or ambiguity with a roasted fig. It’s sweetness and articulated flavor is a perfect match with other ingredients, such as goat cheese and basil. Try it, you’ll like it. In fact, you will love it.
Roasted Fig Crostini
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 figs, sliced lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick
8 slices of baguette, cut on the diagonal, 1/2-inch thick
6 ounces soft mild goat cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
8 whole basil leaves
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.)
Lightly oil baking tray. Arrange fig slices in one layer. Lightly brush tops with olive oil. Bake in oven until bubbly and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes. While figs are roasting, brush baguette slices with olive oil. Arrange on another baking tray in one layer. Bake in same oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. To assemble crostini, spread baguette slices with goat cheese. Arrange 1-2 figs over cheese in one layer. Lightly drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a basil leaf. Serve immediately.