07 August 2013

Fig Salad Dressed in Honey and Balsamic Vinegar


Composed Salad of Figs, Baby Greens, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans


Finding Figs

Since discovering figs a few years ago I have cautiously nurtured my interest into a seasonal attraction. Not always easy to come by even when they are in season, I was able to find a reliable source for figs in the Pacific Northwest. I wasn’t sure, however, where I would find them in my new home in Tennessee. 

Not to worry, I found them a few weeks ago, in a small box nestled among the seasonal berries at The Fresh Market.  There, for $3 I acquired about a dozen perfect two bite sized mission figs.  Then, at the local farmer’s market last week I found them again, even fresher and more appealing.


A Sweet Attraction


While I am attracted to figs my past experience with them has been mixed.  At times I admire their modest outward appearance and enjoy the complex sweetness of their vivid flesh. At other times I shy away from the almost cloying tear-shaped softness and sandy sweet crunch of these dark gems.

It took some time for me to understand how to gauge the ripeness of figs, and I am still learning. While fully ripe figs have a profound depth to their sweetness that I think is best enjoyed on its own, a fig that is just shy of perfect ripeness is excellent for pairing with goat cheese and honey or quartered to scatter with red onion and gorgonzola on a pizza.  That is also the stage where they are best suited to use in this delicious little composed salad.


Composed Salad of Figs, Baby Greens, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans on Board

Fig and Goat Cheese Salad

½  cup pecan halves, divided
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
6 ounces chèvre
Mixed baby salad greens
12 small figs
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a small nonstick skillet, toast pecans over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fragrant and golden. Transfer pecans to a small dish. 

Return skillet to medium-low heat.  Add the butter and brown sugar, stirring until melted and combined.  Add ¼ cup of the toasted pecans.  Cook and stir for  two or three minutes, until the pecans are well coated.  Remove to a small dish and set aside.

Chop the remaining ¼ cup of toasted pecans.  Form the chèvre into a log and roll the outside in the chopped pecans, pressing the pecans around the outside of the chèvre.  Wrap the chèvre in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes or so, or until ready to assemble the salad. (You want the chèvre to be firm enough to slice but it need not be chilled through.)

To assemble the salad:

Place a handful, about 1 cup, of baby salad greens on each of 4 salad plates.

Remove the stem and slice the figs in half  (or in quarters if the figs are large). Scatter two or three figs on top of the salad greens on each plate.

Slice the pecan crusted chèvre into ¼ - ½ inch thick slices.  Divide between the salad plates.

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle evenly over the salads.  Top each salad with a few of the candied pecan halves.

Figs stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with honey and pecans

Note: For an extra pretty garnish slice small figs from the stem end down, almost through in two directions.  Spread the quarters apart and stuff with chèvre. Drizzle the tops with a few drops of honey and top with a toasted pecan.  Place one on each salad or serve as appetizers.


1 comment:

grace said...

i'm loving me some figs right now, and the sweet aspects of this salad sound perfect to me!