Sunday, August 17

Fresh Fig, Arugula, and Mascarpone Bruschetta

fig bruschetta 2

Figs are food for the gods.

Fresh figs have a preciously short season (typically from August-October), so now is the time to indulge. Though the vast majority of figs are produced here in California because of its Mediterranean climate, they can be found in most supermarkets across the country. This is a good thing since fresh figs are di rigeur, appearing in everything from sweet jams and tarts to savory salads and chutneys. And let's not forget the touch of grace they add to crostini, pasta and pizza.

These captivating tear-drop shaped fruit are singular in appearance, flavor, and texture. First they lure you in with their sweet perfume. Then they tempt you with delicate skin that is lush with ripeness, revealing droplets of golden honeyed nectar. One bite reveals an irresistibly attractive pink flesh that is second only to its swoon-worthy soft, cool, creamy flesh.

Fresh figs are not at all like dried figs (which I also love), so there are few things to know about them.

fresh figs

Here's how to select fresh figs:
  1. Look for richly colored, plump, unblemished fruits with the stems intact. The skins of figs often have a powdery finish, which is normal. They should be tender to the touch, but not squishy. Fully ripe figs often ooze a clear, syrupy substance clear which is a good indicator of its sweetness.
  2. If you're not too embarrassed, then take a good whiff. Ripe fresh figs usually emit a delicately sweet fragrance.
  3. Since figs do not ripen once they're picked, it’s best to eat them as soon as possible. Otherwise, place unwashed figs in an air-tight container and cover with a piece of paper towel; they should last 1-2 days.
  4. Bring figs to room temperature prior to eating, which will enhance their flavor. Wash them gently, remove the stem, and enjoy.

Some fig purists wouldn't dream of adulterating fresh figs with any condiments and will only eat them out of hand. However, like vine-ripened, succulent strawberries, their sweetness is magnified when balanced by salty, bitter, or sour flavors. That's why figs get along so beautifully with salty cured meats like prosciutto, bitter greens like arugula, and sour flavors like vinegar. I needn't tell you that they are divine in desserts ranging from delicate pastries to homey crisps.

fig bruschetta

This Fig and Mascarpone Bruschetta is a simple yet stylish appetizer. You really don't need a recipe for it. Just follow my basic outline, and feel free to improv. Don't skip the lemon though; it has an amazing ability to counterbalance the fig's sweetness. For a variation, try fresh ricotta cheese instead of mascarpone or add some prosciutto slices.

So, tell me, how do you like to eat fresh figs?

Fresh Fig, Arugula, and Mascarpone Bruschetta
Print recipe only here.

Select a hard, crusty bread of your choice, such as ciabatta. Make thick slices, and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Broil or toast until golden and crisp.

Quarter the fresh figs. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 1 teaspoon of olive oil per 1 quartered fig. Saute for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and caramelized.

Spread about 2 teaspoonfuls of mascarpone cheese on each toasted bread slice. Top each slice with some fresh arugula, 2 fig quarters, a splash of aged balsamic vinegar, a splash of lemon juice, some kosher salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper, and several thin slices of fresh basil. Garnish with lemon zest curls if desired, and serve immediately.

You might also like:

Fresh Fig and Fennel Pizza

Goat Cheese and Poblano Quesadillas with Pineapple-Mango Habanero Salsa

Roasted Pepper, Olive, and Brie Bruschetta

Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Pie

My friend Chris over at Melecotte has been basking in figgy goodness lately. Be sure to check out her Upside Down Fresh Fig Cake, Figgy Fig Chicken Pockets and more fig recipes.

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Cynthia said...

I've never had figs before. In these parts, figs refer to green bananas and another variety to ripe banana.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Great appetizer idea Susan! I love to bake mine with a soft cheese very quickly and drizzle them with balsamic.

vb said...

I like figs right out of the container while standing in line at the market, carmelised on a thin-crust pizza with fennel and shaved parmesan, dried and chopped into panforte...I could go on. Your recipe looks delicious!

brandin + kari said...

This looks amazing! I am not a huge fan of fresh figs, but I bet I would like this.

Anonymous said...

great appetizer! looks so good, clean and fresh - just the way i like my food. x

Dragon said...

What a wonderful appetizer. This would be a great starter to an elegant meal.

Manggy said...

Beautiful bruschetta Susan! I'll keep your tips in mind when I actually *see* a fig one of these days! :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Fresh figs are such a treat! I'd love to live in a part of the country where I could find them at my local farmers' market.

Rita said...

Figs are delicious! But, to me, it's one of those fruits that you don't mess too much with them. I like to eat them straight from the box. Your bruschetta looks nice though. I noticed you used green figs. I never had those, in Brazil they tend to be tart.

Elle said...

Fresh figs are wonderful. I like them grilled and then splashed with a little balsamic vinegar.

Anonymous said...

I love figs. I recently picked up some beauties at the farmers' market. The fruits of my labor: a caramelized fennel, fig, and prosciutto tart ( and roasted fig parfaits (

Of course, a great quantity were also eaten out of hand! It's hard to improve on such a wonderful fruit!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Really beautiful! That bruschetta looks amazingly good!



eatingclubvancouver_js said...

I have fresh-fig-envy.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

If they are in season I will have to try my first fresh fig. I am behind the times I know:D

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Beautiful and informative post, Susan. I enjoy your how-to tips.

Unknown said...

Fig preserves has been my favorite since I was a very young child. But not just anybody's fig preserves, and never store bought. Arriving at my grandparents, I would head straight for the pantry and my grandmother never disappointed. On the little shelf filled with jars of strawberry, pear and plum there would always be a few small jars (we were not pint jar people--unless the jars held pickles or homemade catsup) of fig--sometimes one would have my name on it. My grandmother made it with a hint of ginger. She did not work from a written recipe and by the time I was ready to try it on my own, she was no longer with us. Through a bit of trial and error I've managed a close approximation.

If not made into preserves, figs are wonderful wrapped in thinly sliced country ham with a smidge of soft cheese--either mild or strong.

I have a spot in my yard picked out for a fig bush. I just need to get the overgrown holly and dead azalea removed. I cannot wait.

Anonymous said...

This is very clever and innovative. I love what you have done here. Bruschetta with Figs, what an elegant and sophisticated combination.


bee said...

what gorgeous pics of my fav fruit!!!

cindy said...

i love figs too. i eat them fresh just plain while they are in season, and sometimes make a turkish garbanzo bean salad with dried figs.

Stacey Snacks said...

I have a FIG FETISH! I make crostini w/ fresh figs from my tree, by using fresh ricotta cheese, a basil leaf, a slice of fig and a drizzle of fig balsamic vinegar!!! SO YUMMY!
I also eat figs in my yogurt every a.m. in the summer, while we can get them here in NJ.

Tonight, I am trying your Indian cherry chutney on pork roast....I will keep you posted!


Kim U said...

We have two fig trees in our yard and they're finally starting to produce good quantities of figs this year. I do like just eating them as is, but my other favorite is cutting an opening and stuffing in some goat cheese. Then I bake them for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Drizzle honey over them and serve with some homemade frozen yogurt. Delicious!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, I love them with yogurt and some honey drizzled on top, yum!
This bruschetta could easily become a favorite of mine, too.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I guess I'm not a purist, cause I'm all into adulterting figs, especially the way you did it here! Yummm!!!

Culinary Wannabe said...

Love the fig tutorial! I've never eaten a non-dried fig before (*gasp* - I know, I live under a rock). But I will have after tomorrow when I try this for lunch!

Anonymous said...

I love figs, too. I like to brush them with honey and then roast them. Then you can combine them with salty prosciutto and ricotta in a salad or on crostini. Yum.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

How decadent is that? Figs on toasted bread! I love it!

Jeanne said...

So beautiful! I *adore* fresh figs - the frst one was a revelation after only knowing dried figs for most of my childhood.

I like them sliced open, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and roasted, served with toasted pine nuts and a blob of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

RecipeGirl said...

I did a post on figs a couple of posts ago... got some great ones at Chino Farms. I hadn't had figs since I was little and I absolutely fell in love with them! I'm going to have to do a little more experimenting before their season ends.

Half Baked said...

Beautiful! I love figs. your pictures are making me drool!
I stuffed some with goat cheese and threaded them onto rosemary skewers and poped them on the grill for a couple of minutes. very tasty!

Anonymous said...

I love figs front ways, side ways, back ways, all ways. Adorned or unadorned, dry, frozen in ice-cream, slow-cooked in jam, baked in tart or cakes, as-is with blue cheese or goat cheese, broiled with a little honey, directly off the tree or at the dinner table - even in fig Newton! I had planted 3 fig trees at my old house, and how I miss them!

I just have not decided where I am going to plant new trees here: afraid the bear will want them. So they are still in containers after all those years...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be honest here - Figs never appealed to me. I'm not sure why, maybe it has something to do with only be exposed to Fig Newtons but I never once wanted a fig, until this photo! Those look ridiculously good. May I try one? :)

sage said...

I really like Fig Newtons, so I thought I'd like fresh figs. Uh uh. No way. They were just gross. I was really disappointed.

OTOH, your photos make them look beautiful.

Annie said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never had a fresh fig, only dried. I love them dried and I'm sure I'd love them fresh.
Your bruschetta looks amazing!

Anonymous said...

This looks amazing! I love fresh figs in desserts (tarts, cakes, etc.) but when I can find them I will be making this.

Lisa Johnson said...

I don't think I've ever had a fresh fig! One more thing to try! ; )

Chibog in Chief said...

those figs are so bright and green!! the violet figs are the one abundant in our region!! i love this bruschetta!! great flavours and colors or summer!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

This looks fantastic! I absolutely love figs and all of the recipes that highlight them--they really are a versatile fruit that seem to take so many dishes to new heights. I'm quite bad about cooking with them--I usually wind up eating them all before I ever get around to using them in a dish.

Debbie said...

Nothing can compare to the flavor of a fresh fig. My grandfather had 6 fig trees in his vegetable garden and we ate them straight off the tree. I have 2 figs trees and still eat them to this day the same way. I do nothing with figs but eat them as soon as I pick them!

Darius T. Williams said...

This recipe looks like it breaks all the I'm all for it - lol.


Anonymous said...

I'm crazy about figs, and yours look so tempting on that wonderful bruschetta!
I love fresh figs in a fresh lettuce salad, with red onion, cranberries and a yummy vinaigrette over all this goodness.

Anonymous said...

Mmh, this looks so tasty. Will HAVE to try it. I love figs...

Great blog!

bazu said...

I like fresh figs plain out of hand! I also like them with veg. cream cheese and agave nectar. And, on salads. Basically, I wish it were fresh fig season all year long! Or at least a few years longer...

Allison Jones said...

I grew up in Claremont, CA and we had a fig tree in our backyard. It had three production seasons a year! The early birds came out in June, and then again in late July. I didn't appreciate them as a kid, when I would climb the tree for fun and ignore the fruit. Now, I can't get enough. There are a few local street fig trees in Portland, but they aren't ripe yet. I can't wait!

BTW, I heard you on NPR, which was such a treat!

You rock.

-Oakley from Lemonbasil

Unknown said...

I love figs!! I even eat the dried ones hehehe Love it with mascarpone and vanilla. Scrumptious!!

Anonymous said...

beautiful! didn't realize fresh figs in a photograph could be so seductive ;)

Jaime said...

did you know i've never had fresh figs before? this looks great, though!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

cynthia-Figs refer to bananas? I never knew that.


vb-Oh, I love them on pizza too. You're making me hungry.

aniticplate-I think you would!

diva-Thanks so much!

dragon-And it's easy to prepare.

manggy-No figs either? :(

lydia-I made a pasta last week with figs and ricotta that my mom and dad loved!

rita-No, these are really sweet, even more so that the black Mission variety.

elle-me too.

haleysuzanne-I made a fennel and fig pizza last year, so I'll have to check out your recipe. Yum!

rosa-Many thanks.


val-Oh, I can't wait to hear what you think!

lynn- Oh, good, I'm glad.

agathax-What a lovely memory that is; thank you so much for sharing it with me. And how exciting that you're planting your own fig bush. Now you'll be able to create your own beautiful memories.

marc-Thank you!

bee-I knew you had good taste.

cinderelly-Mmm... that sounds good.

stacey-Oh, that sounds heavenly. How exciting! Thanks.

kimu-Ooh, savory and sweet. Sensational!

patricia-Honey is my favorite on them.

marie-Me neither!

culinarywannabe-Yay! I hope you like them!

lynda-I agree completely.

meeta-Pretty decadent.

jeanne-They are remarkable, aren't they?

lori-And it's such a short season too.

sylvie-Mmm... fig ice cream must be divine.

halfbaked-Oh, I love the idea of skewers!

hillary-That's fine. I totally understand. And I would be happy to give you one. :)

kotzebue-Hey, it happens. :)

annie-I love dried figs too, but fresh one are completely different in texture and flavor.

jillian-Oh, great!

anali-Please do!

dhanggit-We have both, but the green ones are especially sweet this season.

mike-I hear ya, my friend.

debbie-6 trees? You're grandfather lived in heaven I take it? :)


miri-Mmm... I hadn't thought to add cranberries to a salad with them. Thanks for the great idea!

bl-Thank you so much!

bazu-All year long! That would be a dream come true.

oakley-Fig trees in your back. How splendid! Oh, thanks for your sweet words. I think I just blushed. :)

arfi-I love them with mascarpone too.

kabonfootprint-You're quite welcome.

diva-Ooh, seductive, huh?

jaime-Well, what are you waiting for, girl? :)

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