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Roast Figs with Pistachio Parfait and Chocolate Sauce
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Sheer indulgence: figs, nuts and chocolate are a classic confectioner's combination - doubly delicious when the fruit is fresh. The basis for the parfait is a soft Italian meringue. This holds its shape even as it melts and has a delightfully chewy texture.
Perfect figs should be plump with no signs of shrinking.
To test for ripeness, cradle the fruit gently in the palm of the hand and squeeze it very gently: the flesh should be slightly yielding. A slight cracking and a few drops of sticky moisture on the base indicate the fruit was well on the way to ripeness when picked.
To store, keep figs in the salad compartment of the fridge for no more than four days. But remember to bring them up to room temperature before serving.
Try figs as a starter with thin curls of Parma ham or with a salad of feta cheese and raw fennel dressed with extra virgin olive oil. The fennel echoes the liquorice flavour of the fig. Alternatively, quarter the figs, wrap them in pancetta and grill for 3-4 minutes.
As a dessert, try serving figs with honey, Waitrose Virtually Fat Free Fromage Frais and toasted Waitrose Pine Nuts or as part of a fresh fruit salad with peeled, sliced oranges and pomegranate seeds.
This recipe was first published in April 2007.