Photo by Tom McCorkle and food styling by Marie Ostrosky; for The Washington Post
Here, plump dried figs are halved, then molded a bit to form bite-size cups, each filled with a dollop of soft goat cheese and a jewel-like pistachio. The filled figs then get a glistening drizzle of honey seasoned with orange essence, and a shower of fresh mint leaves. The presentation is festive and elegant, and each mouthful is a sensation of sweet, earthy, fresh, chewy and creamy. It’s a recipe that works as a starter, dessert or midday nibble, making any time of the day feel like a special occasion. Ricotta may be substituted for the goat cheese.
The figs can stuffed with the goat cheese mixture up to 1 day in advance, then covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. The honey drizzle can be made up to 1 day in advance, then covered and refrigerated. Let both components return to room temperature before topping and serving.
24 unsalted shelled pistachios
12 dried black Mission figs, stemmed
4 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature (may substitute ricotta)
2 to 4 teaspoons milk (low-fat or whole)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange juice
1 pinch finely grated orange zest
1 pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
In a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small dish to cool.
Cut each fig in half lengthwise. Press the backside of a small spoon, such as a 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon, into the cut side of each fig piece to form a shallow cup. Arrange the fig pieces on a serving dish, cut side up.
In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese with a fork until creamy, adding the milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed, until smooth and dollop-able. In another small bowl, stir together the honey, orange juice and zest. (If not serving right away, refrigerate until needed.)
Using a small spoon or piping bag with a tip snipped off, fill each fig half with the goat cheese mixture; if not serving right away, refrigerate until needed. Otherwise top each fig piece with a pistachio, drizzle with the honey-orange mixture and sprinkle with the salt and the mint.
Makes 24 Stuffed Figs; serves 6-12
Serving size: 2-4 stuffed figs
Per serving (2 stuffed figs): Calories 64; Total Fat 3g; (Sat Fat 2g); Protein 2g; Carb 8g; Fiber 1g; Cholesterol 4mg; Sodium 38mg; Total Sugar 6g