I remember vividly the first time I ever experienced eating a fig. We were out on my brother-in-law’s balcony , enjoying our full bellies and the sweet air that is a Greek summer’s evening. A plate of figs was brought to the table, and I didn’t have a clue what to do with it.
I bit into that fig and my eyes lit up like I’d just won the lottery. How is this a fruit? Are you sure it’s not a pastry? I felt suspicious and cheated at the same time; Where had figs been all my life? How could I have gone 23 years and only come across them sandwiched into a Newton? (what the heck is a Newton, anyway?)
The next summer I impatiently anticipated their late-season arrival with eager taste buds.
I did manage to uncover those elusive figs once I moved back to the states, but none that I’ve found can compare to the ones I was spoiled with in Greece. The season is just as short, though, so when you see them you better not pass them over. Nature’s candy at its finest.
And since they are so sweet, I think they are amazing paired with some salty prosciutto and tangy Bleu cheese. So good. And the watercress I used here adds a little peppery bite that rounds everything out. I bought watercress at Whole Foods and it came attached to its own little bundle of soil– talk about living produce! You can stick it in your window sill and regrow all the leaves you pluck off to eat! A good investment, I thought.
And since these organic pears were living right next to the figs in the produce section, I thought they were destined to end up together. Some toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of reduced red wine and honey and you’ve made one happy little plate.
I like to stick the figs under the broiler for a few minutes- really brings out their sweetness and gets their edges nice and crispy. That’s the way to treat a fig, if you ask me.
I thought I might be able to reunite with some Greek figs this year, as we have been planning a trip back over that way. While we were finalizing the plans, K realized his passport was expired! We dashed to the Greek embassy in DC, but the paperwork didn’t get back to us in time. So looks like it’ll be another year for those figs…and I’ll just have to settle for this fig salad with prosciutto.
K said his body was really craving seawater, so I suggested we take a trip to Charleston instead. “How about Hawaii?” was his response. Harder to plan an impressive beach trip when your critic has spent his entire life splashing around in the Mediterranean.
We settled on San Diego, a nice compromise I’d say. Beaches for the boy and bounteous farmers markets for this girl. We are leaving on Monday and I can hardly wait. I’m hoping to get lots of yummy inspiration.
- several ripe figs
- 1-2 ripe pears
- watercress, arugula, or other green.
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Bleu cheese crumbles
- few slices of thinly sliced prosciutto
- 3/4 cup red wine (I used merlot)
- 1/2 tbs honey, plus extra for drizzling
- sprig of thyme
- squeeze of lemon
- Slice figs lengthwise and place on baking sheet. Broil on high for about 4 minutes, until edges start to get a little crispy. While you're waiting, add pine nuts to a medium-high heat pan and stir until lightly browned.
- Add wine, honey, sprig of fresh thyme, and squeeze of lemon to a sauce pan. Heat and stir until you have reduced liquid to a thick sauce. Remove thyme.
- Plate greens, fig slices, pear slices, toasted nuts, prosciutto slices, and bleu cheese crumbles. I like to add a little fresh thyme before I drizzle with the wine reduction and some extra honey.
Resuscitate figs from their mediocre cookie reputation. Get ’em before they’re gone!
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.