It's nearly fig season again here in Sonoma and I can hardly wait. Usually when people think of Sonoma, they think wine and this guy, Ben Flajnik, aka "The Bachelor."
How I've managed to live here and miss the whole "Bachelor thing" eludes me, but be that as it may, I have run across him a few times during my morning trips to the Basque Boulangerie. But Sonoma's not all about Beaujolais and Bachelors. We've also got blackberries, plums, persimmons, pomegranates, olives, and this time of year figs galore. These tasty treats are not just found in orchards and backyards but by walking paths, growing wild on every street, by roadsides, in short, all over and everywhere. It's one of the things I love about living here; the ability to forage and glean. In all my years in Santa Monica, the closest I ever got to that was persuading my friends to give me the fruit from their "messy" loquat trees. One woman's driveway nuisance, is another woman's chutney.
But back to figs. They're everywhere around here this time of year, free for the picking. If one buys them in the stores or at a neighbors sidewalk stand, they're also inexpensive. I like to keep figs around; they're great for snacking, wonderful baked in desserts, and exceptional when oven roasted and used in an appetizer salad.
Oven Roasted Fig Salad
Here's What You Need:
1 basket of Mission figs
1 and 1/2 Tbs of Fig Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbs of olive oil
1 finely chopped shallot
1 tsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts
1 round of Bucheron cheese
lettuce for salad
Here's What To Do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the figs.
Cut a small X in the tip of each fig and squeeze them a bit at the bottom to open them slightly.
Place them in an ovenproof baking dish.
Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle the figs with a bit of kosher salt.
Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes.
When the figs have softened, take them out of the oven and set them aside.
Prepare a mixed green salad. (I used a combo of lettuces, red leaf, devils ears, and a bit of frisee.)
Let the cheese come to room temperature.
Heat a small cast iron pan or a skillet.
When the pan is hot, add in 1 tsp of olive oil.
When the oil is hot, add in 1 finely chopped shallot.
Stir the shallot around until it browns and crisps slightly, set it aside.
In a small bowl mix together 1 and 1/2 Tbs of Fig Balsamic Vinegar.
I use a brand I received from a local maker, the people at Sonoma Harvest . Right now their stuff is available only at my local Sonoma Market or online if you don't live in Sonoma, (most people don't) but I understand that they ought to be available in other places soon. I've really gotten hooked on their stuff.
Mix the vinegar with 3 Tbs of olive oil.
Add in the pan-roasted shallots and kosher salt to taste.
Take the cheese and put a bit of it as a filling into the center of each roasted fig.
Drizzle the salad dressing over the mixed greens.
Toss the salad well.
Put some salad onto each plate.
Place two stuffed figs onto each bed of greens.
Sprinkle the chopped walnuts onto each plate.
Serve it up!
That's it. Savory, sweet, delicious before a nice pasta dinner or anything else for that matter. With the addition of chicken or some other protein, you've got an entree salad for lunch.
I bought the figs I used in this salad, but I've been cruising the paths of Sonoma, watching the fig trees and getting my basket ready to join my fellow gleaners once the harvest is ready.
Coming up next more experiments with summer fruit and I give my dehydrator a test run. Chilied mangos for everybody!!!! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori