After years of being thought of as Newton filling, figs are popular again. Sales to restaurants and grocery stores are rising rapidly, according to the California Fig Advisory Board. Chefs love figs, which are in peak season right now, because they work equally well in sweet and savory dishes, including salad, risotto and ice cream. There are hundreds of varieties, ranging from purple-black to almost white. When buying figs, look for plump ones that feel heavy in the hand, tender but not mushy. They're very perishable and should be used soon after you get them home, but they can last in...

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