On a dewy morning in early spring some while back, we purchased a small fig tree in a gallon pot at our farmer’s market.
That tree is now soaring over seven feet tall and rewards us with an abundance of sweet chewy figs. The more we pick them the more the tree produces.
Figs continue ripening from early fall to a hard frost. Here in North Carolina that can be the beginning of October. Our tree has gone through early light frost with only the outer figs being damaged, the fruit in the center toward the trunk were fine.
This beautiful tree doesn’t ask for much care. Some simple trimming in the winter while the tree sleeps to stop crossed branches and allow the sun to reach the center fruit buds. Our fig tree is also very forgiving. I have been unable to prune it on occasion, and it still gave us fruit – just not as much as it would if it had gotten its trim.
I have found the fruit that is produced after a gentle frost is sweeter, but does not keep as well and must be eaten or processed quickly
Fig recipes range from sweet to savory. My family loves them in an entree, and I can use my home preserved or fresh figs in the recipe below.
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 300°F
Slice the onion into strips lengthwise.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a sauté pan or cast iron skillet 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 300°F. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the tenderloins reaches 140°F. Then remove from oven and let rest.
While the tenderloins are roasting, add the onions to the sauté pan along with the other tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine and sauté 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. Sauté 2 minutes, stirring often.
Slice the pork tenderloins into 1/4-inch thick slices and serve alongside the onions and figs.
Plant figs trees in your garden – they are easy to care fore and nutritious. Do not overlook this wonderful late summer/early fall treat. Figs blend well in cookies, salads, and many other robust recipes.