Disclosure: I received complimentary products from Valley Fig Growers in exchange for this post and giveaway. As always all opinions are my own.
About six months ago my 14 year old daughter, RiRi, decided on changing her eating habits by becoming a vegetarian. Since then I’ve had the challenge of creating meals for her either by adapting whatever I’m making for the family and making a smaller serving for her with an alternative, or I make something vegetarian friendly for the whole family.
I have to admit, even though it’s her change in eating habits that it has changed the way we all eat as a whole. We’ve tried alternative products that I don’t think we would have tried otherwise and found some pretty tasty substitutes.
As we all know February is the month for love and the holiday we love to spend with that someone special, Valentine’s Day. Not only is it the month for love, but it’s also National Heart Month as well. I thought it would be interesting to create a recipe that can be shared with your love on Valentine’s that also is heart healthy.
I recently received a package from Valley Fig Growers that contained some delicious varieties of Orchard Choice® California Fig Spreads. These are made right here in California with California Figs and other California-grown ingredients. There were four flavors in my package consisting of California Orange, Organic Mission Fig, Port Wine and the most intriguing to me, Balsamic Pepper.
Now, I must admit I’m normally not the biggest fan of figs. Of course, I haven’t even tried them since I was a kid, but until now I hadn’t felt inclined to try any more. Once this package arrive I have to admit that I couldn’t wait to open these jars up because those flavors were really calling my name.
I learned that figs are actually considered to be an aphrodisiac. Figs have been associated with passion, romance and love for centuries and has been associated with romance in almost every culture. It’s easy to see why, especially with how heart-healthy figs are. With high potassium levels and low sodium levels these littls bites can help lower blood pressure and they are also high in antioxidants. Figs are high in omega-3 and omega-6 which can help lower cholesterol and preserve flexibility in your arteries.
I love snacking on crackers or toast with cheese and quite a few of these would pair easily with that, but I wanted to try something different and the Balsamic Pepper Fig Spread was ideal for what I had in mind.
Once I popped the top off, I saw the fig seeds and smelled the delicious aroma of balsamic vinegar and pepper. Spicy and sweet, you know that’s my favor flavor mash-ups. Instantly I wanted to try this in a vegetarian meal. There was an Italian sausage product I’d found recently for RiRi, completely vegan and made with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Super tasty and it’s hard to believe it’s not really meat. I thought it’d be fun tossed over some colorful pasta with a few veggies and this spread. Some smoke gouda would lend just the right balance to make this meal a winner.
In just twenty minutes I had a delicious and filling meal that was heart healthy, meat free and had a great balance of sweet, smoky and tons of flavor. This would be a great lunch or a light dinner to whip up for your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, or any day you’re in the mood for some love and romance.
- 1 vegetarian Italian sausage (mine had sun-dried tomato and basil)
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Orchard Choice California Fig Spread in Balsamic Pepper flavor
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup grape tomatoes measured, then quartered
- 1/4 cup spinach measured, then cut into thin strips
- salt and pepper
- smoked gouda cheese
- tri-color rotini
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper
In a pot, prepare the rotini as directed on the package.
Begin by slicing an uncooked sausage down the middle, then cutting into 1/2 inch slices. Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan, and begin to saute the sausage. Once it’s almost cooked, add the minced garlic, adding more olive oil if necessary.
Once the garlic is fragrant and the sausage is cooked, add the fig spread and stir until warm and all sausage is covered in sauce.
Remove the sausage from the pan, and add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the pan, stirring it to mix with what’s left of the spread. Add the tomatoes and lightly season with salt and pepper, then add the strips of spinach. Lightly saute just until the spinach is slightly wilted, then remove from heat.
Once the rotini is done, drain the water out and season it with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season the pasta with dried parsley and dried basil, and to taste with salt and pepper. Split the pasta between two serving plates, then top with the sauteed vegetables and the vegetarian sausage. Top with a bit of smoked gouda. Perfection.
What would you make with these Fig Spreads?
You can have your chance to test out your own recipes, I’m giving away a 4 pack variety of Orchard Choice® California Fig Spreads and Mission Figlets to one lucky reader.
Here’s how to enter:
Prize: One (1) 4 pack variety of Orchard Choice® California Fig Spreads and Mission Figlets.
Giveaway runs through the evening of February 23rd.
Eligibility: Winners are limited to the continental United States with a valid address (NO PO BOXES) and must be 18 years of age or older. See full contest rules in the rafflecopter form. You will be notified via the email you used in the rafflecopter form if you win, and you will have 48 hours to respond, or a new winner will be chosen.
Enter using the rafflecopter form below. You can sign into the form with Facebook, or you can use your name and email address. Good luck!