- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Besides being sensual and delicious, figs have a surprisingly excellent nutritional profile. With more dietary fiber than dried plums — formerly called prunes — figs also contain a significant amount of protein, calcium (more, ounce for ounce, than cow’s milk), magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, a combination unparalleled in the fruit world.

Since good fresh figs can be hard to find and are incredibly delicate and perishable and 85 percent of the crop is dried for the marketplace anyway, stock up on dried figs and eat them often. When fresh figs are in season, buy firm ones with a fair amount of give when gently pressed. That slight softness is the only indicator of ripeness.

Fresh figs are sublime in a green salad, and at this time of year, they are just finishing their season.

If you can’t find any good fresh ones, go ahead and use dried figs. You can successfully make this rich-tasting salad with either kind.

Green salad with Gorgonzola, walnuts and figs

½ pound very fresh salad greens, cleaned, dried and chilled

4 ripe fresh figs (or 4 to 6 dried figs), sliced

1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

1/4 cup minced walnuts, lightly toasted

Orange vinaigrette (recipe below)

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the greens in a large bowl. Add the figs, cheese and walnuts.

Just before serving, toss gently but thoroughly with some orange vinaigrette (keep it light). Grind in some black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

½ cup orange juice

4 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar

2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley

Up to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

Combine everything in a lidded jar, cover and shake well. Shake again before each use. Makes about 1½ cups.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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