National Fig Week is a good time to unveil an unusual-yet-delicious pasta dish: Pasta With Fig Sofrito & Parmesan, made with dried California figs. What’s sofrito, you may ask? It’s a staple in Mediterranean, Latin American, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese cooking.
It’s different, but analogous to, the French mirepoix, which is blend of onion, carrots, and celery.
Sofrito, also called sofregit (Catalan), soffritto (Italian) and refogado (Brazilian Portuguese) is a basic preparation of aromatic ingredients cut into small pieces and sautéed or braised in cooking oil.
These typically include garlic, onion, bell pepper and tomato (some countries, such as Puerto Rico, don’t use tomatoes).
This recipe, from California Figs, is poetically named: garlic, onion, figs and basil or parsley make up the “sofrito.” And the ingredients are sautéed in butter, not olive oil.
But the results of both recipes are the same: deliciousness!
You can use whatever type of pasta you like. We prefer flat fettuccine to round spaghetti. You can also use shapes (farfalle/bowties, penne, etc.).
There are two types of dried California figs: Golden and Mission. The former is amber color, the latter is purple-black. You can use either; but for more eye appeal, how about a mixture of both?
The anchovy fillets add a delightful counterpoint to the figs.
Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.
1. COMBINE the water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just tender/al dente, about 10 minutes.
2. MELT 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Add the figs, garlic, onion, optional anchovy fillets, fennel seed, and black pepper. Sauté until the onions are lightly cooked, about 3 minutes.
3. ADD the basil or Italian parsley, briefly stir, and then remove the skillet from the heat. When the pasta is almost cooked…
4. REMOVE ½ cup of the water from the pot and add it to the skillet with the fig sofrito. Return the skillet to the heat and bring the water to a simmer. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.
5. DRAIN the pasta. Do not over drain the pasta; some water should still cling to the noodles. Immediately transfer the pasta to a bowl.
6. ADD the warm fig sofrito and the grated Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Toss the pasta to coat. Serve immediately. Garnish with red chile flakes and additional grated Parmesan cheese.