Sunday, February 24, 2008
I’ve been patient, so patient. You see, it was right at the tail end of last year’s fig season that I discovered I liked them. I had an amazing caramel fig gelato that made me completely forget why I avoided them for so long in the first place. Waiting for fruit to grow has got to be even more boring than watching paint dry! And then to rub salt in the wounds, there were events like Sugar High Friday that occurred when there were no figs in sight for months around here! (though I must say, all of those submissions looked amazing, and I was particularly upset that I wasn’t able to participate)
I’ve spoken a little about my Nanna before, but I didn’t mention her garden. My grandparents originally came from Malta, which is a tiny island in the Mediterranean, just south of Sicily. When they migrated to Australian in the 1970s with their six children, they brought with them their knowledge and love of Mediterranean food.
My grandfather planted fruit trees in his garden – oranges, blood oranges, lemons, pomegranates, bananas, prickly pears and figs. He planted parsley and mint, and all manner of lovely flowers. I think he even grew tomatoes and grapes at one point! I have fond memories of climbing ladders to pick oranges and lemons to make fresh juice for lunchtime. He has now passed on, but his garden is still flourishing, and my nanna often has more fruit than she knows what to do with! When she offered me some figs, I greedily accepted.
I ate many of them raw, sometimes with ice cream and honey. I looked at many recipes and saw that figs were often paired with walnuts, which inspired these lamb burgers. I was so impressed with how these turned out, the flavours played nicely against each other. I especially liked the slight crunch that the walnuts gave. My dad and sister who aren’t too keen on figs loved them, but I thought they were even better a day later after a sleep in the fridge, which makes me imagine that they’d be good ‘make in advance’ picnic food. The good thing about these burgers is that they can be served with green beans and creamy garlic mashed potato for dinner, or on Turkish bread with salad for lunch. I would have loved to add slices of fig to my burger but I’d eaten them all by then!
Lamb Burgers with Walnuts and Figs
Makes about 10-12 patties
• 600g lamb mince
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 4-5 figs, stalks removed, finely diced
• ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped
• Sea salt and cracked black pepper
• 3 eggs
• Olive oil
1. Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands, if you’re keen) until well combined. The mixture should hold together pretty well and not be sloppy.
2. Shape mixture into patties, approximately 10cm in diameter and quite thin because they shrink while cooking
3. Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Cook 2-3 patties at a time until well browned and cooked through. Allow to drain on paper towels. Serve as desired.