It is officially creamy oatmeal season. Unfortunately, it’s not fig season at all.
Good, fresh figs are hard to come by.
There’s a fig tree somewhere on the UNC Chapel Hill campus. I’ve never actually seen it, but I’ve heard people talk about walking past and pulling fresh figs right off. Of course, the pandemic has now cancelled classes indefinitely. The 2020 fig season is over, and it’s looking like I’ll be learning via Zoom for the rest of my graduate school career. In other words, I’ll probably never get to take advantage of the legendary campus fig tree.
The long-story-short of it is that I get excited every time I see a fresh fig, whether it’s in the wild or in a supermarket. I know (I KNOW!) that figs are only in season during early summer and mid-fall. I understand that while you might occasionally find them outside this window, they probably won’t be very good. And yet…I bought late-November fresh figs at my local Harris Teeter a couple weeks ago.
Obviously, the out-of-season figs weren’t great. They had that fig texture, sure, but they were dry and not so sweet. (If you’ve had in-season figs, you know that they’re juicy and almost taste like they’re full of syrup.)
So, I did what I had to do. I seared them in a little bit of olive oil, then added water and a spoonful of sugar to plump and sweeten them up. This helps make the out-of-season figs taste like figs are supposed to taste. I suggest you do the same the next time you get stuck with mediocre figs.
Because it was breakfast time, I served the figs over creamy oatmeal.
In other words, I made the oatmeal with some milk instead of just with water — if you don’t cook yours that way, you really ought to start. Oatmeal made with water is tasteless and can get a little bit gummy. Oatmeal made with milk is creamy, and tastes like what you’d get at a restaurant or a very fancy hotel breakfast buffet. And I don’t mean almond milk, either. Whole or 2-percent cow’s milk is the way to go here for the most flavor and the best texture. I wrote about this over on The Kitchn last year, and I hope the word is spreading.
The whole thing took less than 10 minutes to make, because you can work the figs while you’re waiting for the oatmeal to thicken.