Thursday, September 3, 2009

At Market...Figs

Figs are a quintessential, late summer fruit. Suited perfectly to California’s warmish winters and endless sun, they thrive in our Mediterranean-like climate. I have gobbled more than my fair share of Fig Newton Cookies, but have never really been a huge fan of fresh figs, mostly because, though they are sweet, they don’t have much flavor unless they are cooked or dried. But I keep trying, optimistically buying pints at the farmers’ market each week, only to have them covered with nasty white mold because I never get around to using them.

But I've been inspired by glossy magazine pictures of prosciutto-wrapped figs with goat cheese as an appetizer, and think I’ve finally figured out what to do with these teardrop-shaped fruits. Combining these ingredients creates a perfect trifecta of flavor (salty, tangy, and sweet) that tastes amazingly delicious served deconstructed atop a bed of baby field greens that have been tossed in a light vinaigrette. Presented on a platter, this salad is beautiful enough to impress your foodie friends yet simple enough to be enjoyed on a weeknight.

Figs can be deep purple to yellowish green, depending on the variety, but all should have smooth skin and soft, yielding flesh when they are ripe. Keep them in the refrigerator, and use them within a few days of purchase because they grow can grow fur faster than a werewolf under a full moon.

Fig, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 4

1 bag of mixed baby greens
10 ripe figs, stemmed and quartered
3 slices of prosciutto
4 thin slices of red onion
2 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (available at Trader Joes)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Pan-fry the prosciutto for a few minutes to crisp slightly, chop, then set aside.

Make dressing. In a bowl, mix vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard. Drizzle in oil while whisking to emulsify. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl and toss with about half the dressing, just to coat, taking care not to over dress the leaves or they will become soggy.

Lightly spread the lettuce out on a medium platter. Top with figs, red onion slices, prosciutto, and goat cheese. Season with a bit more salt and pepper and serve immediately.


Half Baked said...

I love fig! Unfortunately the fig season in our area is already over because that salad is making my mouth water!

Linda said...

How beautiful this salad looks. Living in the northeast, fresh fig trees don't exist. And when we get them they aren't like right off the tree. But there is nothing better than biting into a fresh fig!

Trish said...

I agree with that beauty in the salad. I just don't get the fresh figs here....well...not unless I want to pay the price. Seems that, although people DO grow them with success here...even in their backyards, the ones that are not eaten by squirrels or raccoons are treasured and horded by owners....not too willing to share. Can't say I blame them!

Tara said...

This is such a ubiquitous fruit here in Turkey (duh - Mediterranean) but it took me awhile to develop a taste for it. My husband who is Turkish won't eat them, but his father can't get enough. Now when I see them, I start to salivate. I prefer them plain and simple, but I can't eat them unless I peel them. I buy them in small quantities so they don't get furry and don't wash them until I'm ready to eat them. It's too bad we don't eat pork, otherwise this salad looks amazing! I'll have to find a non-pork substitute for the 'salty' flavor. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

Ann @ Cooking the Books said...

There's a fig tree in the garden of the house we rent in Provence and whenever I look at its leaves I think of how ancient figs are -- Adam and Eve, and all that. Your salad looks divine!

Tara -- maybe try shavings of parmesan instead of the ham... Or, feta cheese for that sweet-salty combination. Mmm!

Ann Mah said...

P.S. Forgot to say -- I tagged you on my blog. Hope you'll join in the game of "blue tag!"

Alison said...

Tara, I agree with Ann about adding salty cheese...a good, crumbly blue cheese would work too...or an aged goat cheese, if you can find it. You could also throw in some salted nuts.

Sprouted Kitchen said...

so pretty! anything with fresh figs... swoon. So sad theyre gone.