For the past week and a half we’ve been on the road and having a blast. So far, we’ve spent time with family and with dear friends whom we hadn’t seen since we moved to Alabama two and a half years ago. The odyssey has taken us to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. So much fun!
Before leaving, I decided to make an edible gift that would travel well, especially in cold weather.
So I thought of these figs, which are an Italian rustic classic. I grew up eating them in my house over the holidays. They would appear without fail starting three weeks before Christmas, and they were always in good company: a bowl of sumptuously chewy dried dates and a wicker basket filled with a beautiful assortment of nuts. (My favorites were always hazelnuts and my mom eventually started buying more of them so that other people might actually luck into tasting one.)
I find them especially satisfying because they are just the right amount of chewy with just a little crunch thrown in, thanks to our friends the walnuts. They are also not too sweet. I always feel good when I eat them, as though I’m doing both my palate and my body a favor.
making baked walnut-stuffed figs
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Procure 2 pounds of dried figs, which usually translates into 2 bags or packages of dried figs. During the holidays you can find them in any good-quality supermarket. Cut them carefully in half, making sure that you still leave the two halves slightly attached. Like this.
Snip the tip of each fig off.
Carefully open each fig, making sure not to break it apart and place walnut pieces inside. You’ll need approximately 1/2 cup of walnuts for this. Press them, first with your fingers. Then – placing them on a flat surface – with the heel of your hand.
Finally, transfer them to a tray and then the oven. Turn down the oven temperature to 375°F and allow them to bake 10 minutes. You want them to get just a little bit of that golden color that makes them look so pretty.
Once baked, remove them immediately from the baking sheet to prevent the bottom of the figs from becoming too hard and crunchy. Allow them to cool on a heat-free surface for an hour or so. Store them in an air-tight container, arranged in a single layer and separated by parchment paper. Add a couple of bay leaves with each layer, as they will help to preserve them. Enjoy!