Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Fig Love

Fig season may be waning, but at my local farmer’s market this Saturday, there were some real beauties on display. So of course a couple of pints found there way into my bag. Now I’m all for eating a ripe and luscious fig just as i- raw and out of hand or on cut into wedges and placed on a simple green salad. But several years ago, while reporting a food and wine story in New Zealand,  I was treated to a spectacular fig dish that I’ve since duplicated time and again…
I had been invited to lunch by a family of winemakers, whose house and vineyard were located near Omaha Beach, in the more tropical region north of Auckland. The hostess (there she is above) served a beautiful meal, which included figs from her own lush orchard. The house itself was ridiculous, here is a view of the kitchen from an overhead causeway:

And then there were the fig-split in half, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted in an oven until slightly melty. She then topped them with goat cheese, a piece of prosciutto, and some balsamic vinegar. If there is a more perfect combination of sweet, salty, creamy, and tart, I don’t know what it is.

When I made it at home the other night as a little appetizer for me, my mom, and Tim, I lined the backing sheet first with parchment paper (there will be gooey bits once the figs are roasted, which are too delicious to leave stuck to the pan, so I peel them off as a chef’s treat and secretly eat them before serving the rest) and preheated the oven to 400 ( I think they would come out really well cooked on a grill).

I drizzled a little olive oil on each fig half (discard any mealy ones), but also added a sprinkle of salt ( I also recommend tasting a fig from your batch first because every variety is so different, and also you need to figure out right away if you got a good batch or not…sometimes bad figs happen to good people). Because the variety I had were small, it didn’t take long for them to cook, about 10 minutes (you don’t want them to burn so keep an eye on them). I then immediately added a little spoonful of goat cheese on each half, then a few drops of balsamic (use the good stuff, if you’ve got it), and a piece of prosciutto ( I tore smaller pieces from a larger slice, to stretch out what I had, but you could also wrap each fig with a slice of prosciutto, if you’re feeling more decadent).

I served them directly on the pan, placed in the middle of the table. A nice cold glass of prosecco to go with it—it’s like having a cocktail party without the party.

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