The Netherlands were visited this Summer by two heatwaves in which temperatures reached unprecedented heights. The first wave at the beginning of this Summer, lasted a day or five, to be followed a couple of weeks later with over two weeks of extreme heat, day and night.
During this heat I have been standing on my bedroom balcony quite a few times, staring with a mix of admiration, awe and envy at my neighbours fig tree. A fully grown tree bursting with an enormous amount of figs, undoubtedly as a result of this warm and sunny weather, within my reach! They seemed to hastily ripen under these excellent conditions. A marvellous process to witness, hence my admiration and awe for nature’s splendour. The envy however was caused by the fact that in my own backyard there are two fig trees to be found, one rooted in open soil, the other in a huge pot. Neither of them bare so much as the beginning of a fig! Absolutely frustrating and utterly unfair if you ask me. But what can one do? I could hardly climb over my balcony, stepping over the roof to pick some figs from my neighbours tree now could I? In all honesty, it did cross my mind several times. However the thought of getting caught in the act and the embarrassment that would inevitably follow prevented me from doing something illegal like that. Instead I decided to give all my attention and love to my herb garden, my sprouts and the grapes that dó grow in my garden.
And, as often in life, my good behaviour was rewarded! Last week my neighbour came over handing me a plate full of fresh figs from her tree. She said there were too many for just the two of them and it would be a waste to let them decay. I admitted that I had been staring jealously at her figs and she completely understood. She added that she was curious to find out what I would prepare with them. Excitement, gratitude and pressure all because of a plate full of figs😉.
No time to waste, I started right away with a simple fruit salad for lunch.
A mix of rocket, grapes, blackberries, currants, avocado, fenugreek sprouts (homegrown) and figs sprinkled with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and nigella seeds. Simply delicious. Figs are great in salads, you can either grill them or eat them fresh. They also combine great with kale.
The second thing I prepared was a basil seeds pudding with oat milk, slices of fresh figs and some mashed figs. Basil seeds, like chia seeds belong to the mucilaginous seeds (slime producing). If you mix them with liquid, oat milk in this case, and place it in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight it will become a pudding-like substance. Great for breakfast or as desert even. The basil seeds give it that distinguished flavour, which combined with the sweetness of the mashed figs and fig slices made it an extra special breakfast. No sugar or sweetener needed.
The third thing I wanted to prepare was a fig chutney. A spicy one with a hint of Indian cuisine. I had decided to spread the chutney on top of slices of roasted eggplant, and serve it with a warm Mughrabieh (pearl couscous)-kale salad. Like I mentioned before, kale and figs are a great combination.
This chutney recipe starts with roasting dry spices such as mustard seeds, coriander seeds and cloves which give so much flavour to the chutney. Next to those my two all-time favourite ingredients, black garlic and Isot pepper (aska Urfa flakes) are essential if you ask me. In case you don’t have any available replace with normal garlic and black pepper. However it is worth the effort to get your hands on these two ingredients, it provides a depth of flavour like nothing else. Isot pepper is available in Turkish supermarkets, black garlic should be available in your supermarket or in organic stores. You can also try online!
If you are unlucky, like me, not to have an abundant fig tree, you can also buy fresh figs, they are in store in this period of time (in this part of the world that is…).
In the meantime all the ripe figs have been picked and consumed, the next batch is hanging to ripen further and maybe I’ll get lucky once more 🙏🏽
For full recipe click here .