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roasted balsamic and date syrup figs by food to glowThis time of year – despite the falling temperatures and falling leaves – is a favourite time for me as a cook, and glutton. And figs are one reason why.

Beautiful, black Turkish figs – with their soft, edible dusky-leather jackets, and their tiny crunchy seeds – are my favourite fruit of autumn. I know this sounds a bit poncey, but eating one transports me back to the garden of a house we stayed at in southern France. It was a beautiful, sprawling house, isolated from the rest of humankind and overlooking a heat-hazed valley, checkered with fertile plots and poky wee villages. The best thing about this house – other than the bracingly cold pool – was the overhanging fig trees, with fruit so ripe we would find them smashed on the path each morning; useless to us but bliss for the birds. We managed to snaffle a few before they dropped, but even just the scent as we passed under the heavily-burdened boughs was heavenly. Since then I have greedily bought up ripe figs when in season trying to briefly experience a glimpse of that wonderful family holiday. And then it rains…

figs by food to glowLike plums, I enjoy figs most in their natural, raw state. When at their best – their little bottoms anointed with just a droplet of natural syrup – it seems a sin to do anything but slice them;  enjoying their glorious heady perfume with little more than a some soft, spicy leaves – like rocket – and a perhaps a few pinches of creamy, young mozzarella. A sparing drizzle of raspberry vinegar doesn’t go amiss either. See, greedy.

Less oozingly ripe figs are great for roasting, as well as preserving as compote or jam. Dried, figs take on an altogether different persona – slightly worthy, a whiff medicinal. Fresh is most definitely best. Then, as a close and sticky second, roasted and juicy with mingling of natural sugars and a little added pucker and sweet.

Gooey and toffee-like, but with a tang from the balsamic or raspberry vinegar, these roasted figs make a beautiful dessert, cosied up with a quenelle of crème fraiche or soft goats cheese; dolloped onto ice cream (or indeed stirred into ice cream, with perhaps some freshly made pistachio praline, and refrozen); nestled into a sweetcrust pastry along with fresh, broken cobnuts or hazelnuts and slices of ripest pear. But equally they step out with walnuts and crunchy, bitter chicory in a fresh – almost instant – autumn salad. Seasonal eating at its simplest and most versatile.fig salad by food to glow

Take advantage of the offers in the shops and of course, farmer’s markets. I recently scooped up four boxes of six fruits each recently as they were on their sell-by-date – i.e., they were perfectly ripe. Avoid hard figs, or ones that feel less heavy than their brothers: these never ripen and are largely useless, even after roasting. Not a fig-buying expert? Here’s some guidance.

Make a batch of these roasted and syrupy figs and store to dip into over the coming week. In addition to these ideas, why not add to grain salads with rocket and pistachios, or use instead of fresh fig in my recent fig and labneh tartine? These are even sweet enough to have with a bowl of muesli or granola.fig and labneh tartine by food to glow

Figs love: almonds, hazelnuts, cobnuts, walnuts, pistachios (etc), chocolate, blue and goats cheese, cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom, mint, orange, pears and apples, plums, raspberries and brambles (also growing now), smoked meats and bitter leaves.

Seasonal goodies growing in the UK:

Vegetables aubergines, beetroot, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, celeriac, celery, courgettes, cucumber, fennel, climbing beans, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, mangetout, onions, pak choi, sweet peppers and chili peppers, main crop potatoes, pumpkins and winter squashes (just), radishes, rocket, runner beans, shallots, spring onions, sweetcorn, tomatoes, turnips, watercress and wild mushrooms.

Fruits apples, bilberries and blueberries, blackberries and brambles (wild), damsons, elderberries, medlars, pears, plums, raspberries (the last of them), red currants and rowan berries.

Figs are imported from the Turkey, but do grow in the UK. Just not in commercial quantities. A friend has the most prolific tree but they often don’t ripen well enough to be entirely useful. Not hot enough here. Unlike the south of France. Grrrr.

roasted balsamic figs by food to glow

Balsamic and Date Syrup Roasted Figs + Roasted Fig, Chicory and Walnut Salad

  • Servings: many/4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

½ kg (1 lb) fresh, ripe black figs (or other ripe figs)

2 tbsp best balsamic vinegar or fruit vinegar, like raspberry

2 tbsp date syrup, maple syrup or honey

2 tbsp water

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. Cut each ripe fig in half vertically. Nestle them into a tin that holds them snuggly.

3. Mix together the balsamic vinegar, the date syrup and water and pour evenly over the figs, giving the tin a gentle shake. The figs will release their own fragrant syrup so don’t worry that their isn’t a lake of vinegar and syrup in the tin.

4. For juicy, soft figs with a good puddle of light syrup, cover the tin loosely with foil and roast for about 30 minutes. For firmer, stickier figs, roast uncovered.

Depending on the type of fig and how ripe or not they are, the figs may need more or less time, so do have a look in on them after 20 minutes or so.

For dessert, serve with a good dollop of crème fraiche, yogurt or goats cheese (the latter a classic pairing). Top with chopped pistachios or other favourite nut. To go a bit sweeter still, top with a light scatter of chopped honey-roasted nuts or praline.

roast fig saladSalad of Roasted Figs, Chicory and Walnuts

1 (or 2) head of chicory – red or white, leaves pulled off (they look like little boats)

8 halves of roasted figs, as above

Handful of toasted walnuts

Crumbles of best quality blue cheese or goats cheese, optional (not shown)

Dressing: 1 tbsp of the fig syrup, or 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, + 2 tbsp walnut oil or rapeseed oil + 1 tsp wholegrain mustard + 1 tsp water, and a good grinding of pepper (plus salt if you like). Whisk until amalgamated and glossy. Pour over the chicory, figs and walnuts.

Nutrition Bit: Figs are high in natural sugars (that’s why they roast so well) and soluble fibre. Figs are also rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper and are a good source of vitamins A, E and K. A single raw fig comes in at a paltry  37 calories, so are a great fruit to include when managing weight as they are quite filling. They are often used as a natural remedy for constipation. But don’t hold that against them.

Other Fig Recipes on Food To Glow:

Cardamom-Spiced Fig and Plum Galette

Lebanese Freekeh and Fig Salad

Fig and Labneh Tartines with Maple and Cardamom

Gorgeous Fig Recipes from Others:

Carob and Fig Superfood Smoothie – Whole Nourishment

Coconut Milk,Coriander and Jalapeño-Marinated Halloumi with Figs – Deena Kakaya Vegetarian Recipes and Cooking

Fig, Beetroot and Feta Salad – Tinned Tomatoes

Salmon with Red Onions, Figs and Honey – The Healthy Epicurean

Figgy Buckwheat Scones – 101 Cookbooks


roasted balsamic figsroasted balsamic figs




37 thoughts on “Balsamic Roasted Figs + Roasted Fig, Chicory and Walnut Salad

  1. Oh, your love for figs is as great as mine! I am also of the mindset that fresh figs need little to nothing done to them to be enjoyed, but as you read about with the smoothie there are a few other ways to prepare that don’t ruin their integrity. And roasting would certainly be one I’m up for trying. This looks so delicious.

  2. That looks amazing!!

  3. just amazing!

  4. sianjulian says:

    Yum, beautiful photo. I roasted some figs in balsamic the other day (though they didn’t look as good as this!) – match made in heaven!

  5. Wendy Post says:

    That photo makes my mouth water!

  6. Snap! I’m figgy mad just now too. We’ve been gorging on them at breakfast, so good. Lovely ideas as usual.

  7. Shannon says:

    One of our favorite treats! Roasted figs are divine and so is your post. “Edible dusky leather jackets.” Heheh.

    This is also what we do when we find ourselves with “a glut” of them (Alma’s which are yellow, Turkey’s which are like the Turkish) from our yard. We also save the ones lightly pecked by birds for the roaster, since they’re not pretty enough to serve to company. Did you know that I have EIGHT giant, beautiful fig trees in my own backyard? And that they fruit twice a year, summer and fall? They are my most prolific fruit-ers. My kids call them nature’s spoonful of sugar.

    1. My idea of actual heaven *sigh*. I know you must have zillions of ideas. Share one or two with us here??

      1. Shannon says:

        I will agree. It’s my version of heaven too! To be honest, it’s rare in the beginning of a harvest for a fig to even make it into the house. They are all scavenged straight from the tree by four hungry kiddos.

        One other favorite is to make a jam out of them with balsamic vinegar, sugar, and a bit of lemon juice. Easy to do to: just boil until semi-chunky and let cool, like any other fruit jam. Roasting just makes ’em more presentable, topped with soy cream and nuts for a great dessert.

      2. Thanks for this. Next bargain I spot will be jam. Do you store it in the freezer or add enough sugar to stop spoilage?

      3. Shannon says:

        We are a family of six. The only thing that doesn’t get eaten fast enough that requires the freezer is nuts! If we wind up with extra, it is gifted. We do this with spiced cranberry jelly at the holidays too, peaches in the summer.

      4. Ever think of running a guesthouse? I’d booking for a stay!

      5. Shannon says:

        Haha! You’d fit right in. Like your daughter, tho, I might relegate you to laundry and lunch lady. 😀

  8. iamrorykelly says:

    These look magic – would you use an aged Balsamic or a standard one?

    1. Ooh, aged if you have it. I use an aged one, but not one of the expensive ones.

      1. iamrorykelly says:

        magic 🙂

  9. Susan says:

    Amazing as usual! Some of us only know figs with the last name Newton…..I must get to the farmers market for some! Thanks.

  10. I also adore figs, the exquisite taste and that their annual season marks the end of summer. The salad is exceptional, bursting with flavor, yet simple to prepare!

  11. I’m so with you – I LOVE fresh figs!! I’ve eaten so many recently as the market I go to has had an abundance of them every week! In fact, I’m eating one right now!!!

  12. narf77 says:

    I once worked my way through an entire bucket of figs in a matter of days. I didn’t eat anything else…just raw figs. I would do it again in a heartbeat ;). I have planted 6 fig trees on the property. Not only are they hardy as stick, but they are immune to all of the native animal pests (obviously taste like hades 😉 ) so I might even add more fig trees. You can NEVER have enough figs :).

  13. Bettina says:

    Thank you for sharing! Love figs and love this recipe.

  14. Sally says:

    Our figs here (Turkish) are never as juicy and ripe as one I had once plucked from a tree in Devon. Baking the thing for them. I often use Nigella’s Turkish delight figs recipe with rosewater and orange blossom water but it’s heavy on the sugar. Love your pairing ideas – clever not greedy 🙂

  15. Kavey says:

    Not poncy! The ability of food to transport is to other times and places is one of the joys!

  16. Oh my yes!! I’ll have the tartine thanks. I do love figs, but i’ve never roasted them. Great idea Kellie and thanks for linking to me.

  17. Would you look at those figs! That tartine! Gosh I hope there are ripe figs in my local shops here! I worked for many years at a swimming pool that had fig trees growing inside. They bore fruit, but not that you’d want to eat with all that chlorine off-gassing inside. Occasionally a ripe fig would drop into the pool and inevitably I’d have to explain to a frantic patron that it was ‘only’ a fig. Ah, memories.

  18. Ooh these look so good, I love fresh figs and agree they don’t need much doing to them. I haven’t tried roasting them before but I’m going to have to now!

  19. Deena Kakaya says:

    Edible leather jackets, lovely! Gorgeous images as imagery in this post Kellie, the idea of toffee like fruit is getting my appetite growing again. Thank you for linking to me. Xx

  20. These look incredible! I so wish I was able to find fresh figs near me.

  21. Yum! looks amazing, love figs- can’t get enough of them this year!

  22. Damn delicious and healthy desser,
    never had fresh fig before instead the candied one,
    i agree everithing delicious if it’s glazed with balsamic vinegar

  23. This is a seriously beautiful dish Kellie. I am too loving figs at the moment – and it seems that they have almost everyone’s imagination this Autumn. I also wish we could grow them here, rather than import them from Turkey – but that’s life! I’e been adding them to all sorts of salads and dishes but nothing quite beats just eating one whole as a snack! Must try roasting them next….

  24. I love love love figs – when I was living in Paris, my favourite fruit seller at the local marché would often slip one or two fresh figs into my bag of veg for the week – my favourite Sunday treat!

    1. Lucky you! Did he/she take a shine to you, or were they just really nice?! Perhaps a bit of both ?…

  25. Sophie33 says:

    I made this combo & it was superb & very delightful too! 🙂 x
    Fantastic amazing pics too!, as usual!

  26. Pingback: Fresh Fig Salad

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