We’re nearing the end of our fig harvest, and we had some in the fridge that desperately needed to be eaten, so I decided to include them in risotto, which we haven’t had in awhile. Normally, we cook figs in a pasta dish with gorgonzola and walnuts, and last year, I even put them on pizza, so I figured this would work.
I decided on risotto in part because some of the figs had started to get pretty soft and even put off some liquid in the refrigerator, which I thought would carmelize well. We also had some Asian-style eggplant, and I thought they would soak up the juice and combine well with the figs.
Before starting the risotto, I sautéed garlic in olive oil with some baby portobello mushrooms and the eggplant cut in about 1/2 inch quarters. Then I added about half the figs (the ones that were juicy and a little too ripe), a little yellow squash (just because it needed to be used), and two small peppers, red and yellow. Then I halved the other figs (around 2.5 cups total) and set aside. For spices, I put in red pepper flakes and fresh oregano. I also added a little cooking sherry and a little vinegar from a jar of calamata olives, and I halved some olives to put with the reserved figs and cubed a tomato and cut some fresh basil to set aside.
While half the figs, eggplant, garlic, mushrooms, squash, and peppers sautéed, first on medium high and then on medium low, I cooked the risotto according to our usual recipe for 3 people: half an onion sautéed in butter and olive oil, 1 1/3 cup arborio rice, and 6 cups of vegetable broth, added 1/2 cup at a time, simmering until it is absorbed, then another 1/2 cup is added and so on.
When the risotto was nearly finished, I added the reserved figs and olives to the sautée pan and continued to cook on medium low. I then added the tomato and basil to the risotto at the very end and stirred in a little of the gorgonzola.
I served the tomato basil risotto with the fig/eggplant mixture on top, adding a healthy sprinkling of gorgonzola. You could mix the fig and eggplant in with the risotto, which is what we usually do with the veggies, but I thought it would look nice on top, and then the tomato basil risotto would be more distinctive both in color and in flavor. The figs and the eggplant were a good combination of flavor and texture, and the olives added just enough savory to combine with the slightly sweet figs, and the risotto made a delicious base.
If you have fresh figs on hand — either from your own backyard tree or from your local farmer’s market — give this recipe a try.