The Fig Fairy recently paid me a visit. One of the benefits of being a food blogger is that you often fall under various food fairies' flight paths. I wasn't the only one to benefit from a plethora of this juicy fruit since Karla from California Figs bestowed on my fellow foodies quite the Fig Fest.
Erika from In Erika's Kitchen and her fabulous, newly launched Not Ketchup line, hosted us as she and Judy from Two Broads Abroad put their fig fairy dust on many tasty combinations. First, some fig fun facts.
California is responsible for 100% of all dried figs in the US, and 98% of all fresh figs. Local indeed.
Fresh Fig season is May through December, but luckily with the dried figs, you can enjoy them year around.
You can get 5 grams of fiber in just 3-5 dried of fresh figs. Buh bye Metamucil.
3-5 figs also provides you with one of your daily fruit servings.
Figs are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol and full of potassium, calcium and fiber. Win win.
Not that I encourage anyone from stopping their wine drinking, but figs are rated higher in antioxidants than red wine, but I say double down on your antioxidants and eat some fig and goat cheese with your wine.
Now that we know they're good for us, what to do with them. You can put them in a Fig Julep, sweeten up a lamb daube, spice up a pepper salsa, squirt some Fig Not Ketchup on filet mignon, create the fun to say and eat Figgy Piggy Fig Bars, slide them into a devilishly rich and ridiculously good grilled cheese with fig onion jam.
All dishes were fantastic, but there's the food I eat out and then the healthier food I try to eat at home, which got me thinking about Judy's wonderful quinoa salad with roasted cauliflower and figs. I liked the quinoa fig mix and decided to include some of my favorite vegetables to see how I could make this a tasty one dish meal.
I love stuffing vegetables. It always makes for a nice display and you can include whatever spices and ingredients you have in the house to fill one up. This week I had eggplant and decided to scoop the insides out and cook it with some spices, quinoa and of course figs! There's a Moroccan feel to this dish with the cinnamon and I gave it a little heat with some cayenne because I knew the figs could handle it. You could even throw in shrimp, chicken or chorizo to fully round out the dish.
Depending on how high you stuff your eggplant, you may also have some leftover filling, which I really liked folded into a lettuce wrap. So many possibilities. I hope you enjoy!
Quinoa and Fig Stuffed Eggplant
1 medium eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion diced
2 garlic cloves diced
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped dried Calimyrna (yellow) figs
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut eggplant in half, lengthwise. Scoop interior flesh out leaving 1/4" rim around eggplant. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil on the edges and inside the eggplant. Place both eggplant halves down on a lined baking sheet with skin facing up, cut side down. Bake in oven for approximately 10 minutes, until the flesh begins to brown and the exterior softens, but still maintains structure.
Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in large saucepan and add onions. Cook until translucent and then add garlic. Chop eggplant flesh and combine with onions. Salt and pepper to taste and cook about 7-10 minutes, until the eggplant softens.
Add quinoa to the eggplant - onion mix, along with the tomatoes, figs, lemon, cinnamon, cayenne and parsley. Stir to combine, 3-5 minutes. Pull off heat and stir in feta and walnuts.
When eggplant is done cooking in the oven, remove and scoop pan mixture into each half and cook for about 3-5 minutes until heated through and the feta begins to melt.