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Five ways to use figs, by the renowned chefs at Honey & Co

Figs liven up both savoury and sweet dishes. Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, the chef-owners of Honey & Co cafe and the authors of several bestselling cookbooks, share five ways to use this versatile fruit, from unusual pizza toppings to homemade jam.

By Sarit Packer, Itamar Srulovich
Published 27 Jul 2020, 08:00 BST, Updated 5 Nov 2020, 04:57 GMT

Figs are a staple at Honey & Smoke, where they're served grilled with lamb chops, walnuts, rocket and sage. 

Photograph by Getty Images

Figs hold a special sweetness for us — the scent and taste of holidays on Mediterranean islands, when we manage to snatch some late-summer sun and rest, away from our busy restaurants. There, we pull the sun-warmed figs from the trees and eat them simply with a drizzle of honey and goat’s cheese, or grill them on the barbecue. 

Through careful investigation, we’ve found that the best figs come from Turkey and Egypt — black bursa figs are delicious, but the green-white ones are also gorgeous. Recently, we came across a wonderful striped variety in the US, known as tiger figs.

Closer to home, we’re lucky to have a fig tree growing in our neighbour’s front garden. They kindly let us pick the leaves for flavouring ice creams or wrapping roast chicken. Dried figs are also a year-round staple in our cooking — they’re used in cakes, salads, pickles and more — but when the fruit is in season, from late summer to the end of October, we can’t help but feast on them. 

At Honey & Smoke, our grill house, we serve black figs grilled with lamb chops, walnuts, rocket and sage; our head pastry chef is tasked with the challenge of making enough fig-and-cardamom jam to keep us in stock until Christmas; and at Honey & Co, we recreate that favourite salad from our holidays until the season ends.

Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich are chef-owners of Honey & Co, Honey & Smoke and Honey & Spice, as well as the authors of several bestselling cookbooks.

Five ways to cook with figs

1. Pizza topping
Top your pizza dough with a layer of crumbled feta, a scattering of spinach leaves and sliced figs. Add chilli slices and oregano or thyme if you like. Bake in the oven until perfectly golden.

2. Canapes 
Figs create an ideal vessel for chopped, toasted nuts or slightly sweet cheese. Fill them carefully and enjoy the delight on your guests’ faces at the little burst
of flavour. 

3. Pickle
Soak dried figs overnight and then pickle them in spices to accompany meat or duck. Try using cinnamon and peppercorns or experiment with your own homemade pickle.

4. Carpaccio
Remove the skin and slice thinly, then place the slices in one layer between two pieces of greaseproof paper, and flatten with a rolling pin. Chill down, then serve with cream, honey and thyme. 

5. Jam
We make a jam or relish by adding vanilla, cardamom pods and orange peel, or bay leaves, star anise and chilli. Mix with sugar and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 mins before jarring.

Published in Issue 9 (summer 2020) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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