>> With chewy flesh, smooth skin, and crunchy seeds, fresh figs hit a delightful sweet spot. Look for sweet-smelling, dark, plump, and tender (not mushy) figs. Use quickly; they're quite perishable.

>> Purée fresh figs, adding a little warm water if needed for a smoother consistency. Serve on French toast with berries.

>> For a sweet surprise, add a tablespoon of fig purée between layers of muffin batter before baking.

>> Sauté chopped fresh or dried figs, chopped onion, and sliced apples in olive oil; serve over baked chicken.

>> Arrange sliced fresh figs on dessert plates; drizzle with honey, dollop with lemon curd, and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

>> Stuff fresh figs with Gorgonzola or goat cheese for a tasteful appetizer.

>> Nutrition facts: Worshipped by ancient cultures, figs now garner acclaim for their abundant fiber, potassium, and calcium.

—Elisa Bosley

Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese and Lavender
Serves 8

8 fresh Mission figs
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup goat cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1/2 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
Fresh lavender sprigs, for garnish

1. Rinse, dry, and halve each fig. In a small bowl, blend together mascarpone, goat cheese, lavender flowers, and agave or honey. Spoon cheese mixture on top of each fig half. Garnish with fresh lavender sprigs, if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (2 halves):
Calories: 83 calories
% fat calories: 40
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Protein: 2g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 39mg

—James Rouse, ND, and Debra Rouse, ND