I lit up like the twinkling decorations around me when I overheard two women at a holiday potluck a few years ago rave about their favorite bite of the night: the stuffed figs I brought! This was no ordinary party – it was the annual fete of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic organization of female leaders in the fields of food, beverage and hospitality – so their endorsement was especially meaningful.
That moment sealed the deal, making this my official, go-to holiday party contribution. It being a low-effort endeavor, which can mostly be made ahead were deciding factors too, because, like most people, I typically feel overwhelmed this time of year and welcome ways to streamline things.
I certainly won’t be attending any parties this season, but I will still be whipping up these luscious, healthful bites for my little gang of three at home. Although I feel more numb than overwhelmed this year, I am grateful for the simplicity of this dish.
All it involves is slicing some dried mission figs in half, and gently pressing their soft insides to make little cups, each of which holds a dollop of soft goat cheese. (You could substitute ricotta if you’d like.) I like to pipe the cheese into each fig by putting the cheese into a plastic bag, snipping the end and squeezing it out. A toasted pistachio is set, jewel-like, into each piece, then they 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 bite-size piece 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. Plus, I can practically guarantee rave reviews.
Figs With Goat Cheese, Pistachios and Mint
Total time: 30 mins
Servings: 6 to 12
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.
Make Ahead: 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.
INGREDIENTS:24 unsalted shelled pistachios12 dried black Mission figs, stemmed4 ounces soft goat cheese (chevre), at room temperature (may substitute ricotta)2 to 4 teaspoons milk (low-fat or whole)1½ teaspoons honey½ teaspoon fresh orange juice1 pinch finely grated orange zest1 pinch kosher salt1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leavesMETHOD: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 ½-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.
Nutrition: Calories: 64; Total Fat: 3 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 4 mg; Sodium: 38 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 6 g; Protein: 2 g.
Source: Recipe from dietitian and food columnist Ellie Krieger.