Some time ago, on a dewy morning in early spring we purchased a small fig tree in a gallon pot at our farmerâ€™s market here in central South Carolina.Â That tree now soars seven feet tall and rewards us with an abundance of sweet chewy figs every August.Â Â This beautiful tree doesnâ€™t ask for much care, at most, some simple trimming in the winter to stop crossed branches and allow the sun to reach the center fruit buds is enough. They do well in hardiness zones 7b through 11, essentially the southern Eastern Seaboard, Deep South and Southwest. Figs can be grown in greenhouses in colder regions, with varying degrees of success.
The fresh fruit is great straight from the tree as well as used in a wide variety of both sweet and savory recipes.Â Plant figs trees in your garden â€“ they are easy to care for and provide nutritious fruit.Â Do not overlook this wonderful late summer/early fall treat.Â Figs blend well in cookies, salads, and stand up well in robust recipes.
Figs and Orange Salad
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
6 cups mixed salad greens
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Â½ cups of fresh figs cut into wedges
1-1/3 cups orange sections (4 oranges)
1/4 cup walnut or pecan pieces, toasted
In a large salad bowl, combine salad greens and green onions. Dress greens (see recipe for dressing below), toss gently to coat.Â Add figs and orange sections; toss gently to combine – Season to taste with salt and pepper.Â Sprinkle with toasted nuts and serve.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange peel, orange juice, and vinegar.Â When well combined, pour gently over greens.
Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Figs and Caramelized Onions
2 pork tenderloins, about a pound each
4 Tbsp butter
1 sweet yellow onion
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
8-10 fresh brown figs, quartered
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt the pork tenderloins well and set them out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Heat the oven to 300Â°F.
Slice the onion into strips lengthwise.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a sautÃ© pan over medium-high heat. Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towels. Place the tenderloins in the pan and sear on all sides, until nicely browned.
Remove the tenderloins to an oven-proof pan, and place in the oven at 300Â°F. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the tenderloins reaches 140Â°F.
While the tenderloins are roasting, add the onions to the sautÃ© pan along with the other tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and sautÃ© for 3-4 minutes- until tender and golden. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar, and toss to combine again. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Add the rosemary and figs. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir to combine. SautÃ© 2 minutes, stirring often.Â Remove from the heat. Mix in the parsley and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
When the tenderloins reach temperature, remove from oven and let rest at least five minutes.Â Slice the pork tenderloins into 1/4-inch thick slices after resting, and serve alongside the onions and figs.