Figs are at their best right now. Discover how they make a delicious key ingredient for a colourful autumnal salad.
At the bottom of my garden is an old fig tree, gnarled and twisted it leans to one side next to the Mirabelle tree and provides and huge canopy for shade during the hot summer months. Its large leaves shine translucent in the autumn sun and peeping between the lush greenery are glowing orbs of purple…..almost dusky in appearance and hanging heavy from the branches. I love it when my fig tree is in season and grab every opportunity to eat the sweet fruits, as well as showcase them in my kitchen.
My fig harvest is vast this year and I have to take time to plan what I will make with them……there is always a plethora of preserves that I make with my fresh figs, an Apple, Fig and Pear Chutney with Cardamom for cheese boards and charcuterie as well as Fresh Fig and Ginger Jam.
Then there are salads, and I love to serve figs with salads, an Autumn Pear, Fig and Goat’s Cheese Platter with Ham and Walnuts is as good as it gets, as well as Fresh Fig and Goat’s Cheese Salad with Walnuts are always favourites at my kitchen table.
But, the new salad on the block, for 2013, is a salad of fresh escarole leaves with fresh figs, blue cheese, smoked ham and walnuts, and is a perfect autumnal lunch or supper dish.
A salad of such rustic proportions is filling and pleasing to the eye, as well as being a seasonal portrait of my garden produce. If a salad is not to your liking, then why not serve some fresh figs with a simple cheese board, British cheeses are wonderful, as are French cheeses too.
All that is needed to compliment your fresh figs and cheese is a yard or two of fresh bread, and some salted butter maybe…..or fresh walnuts and apples. Figs are very well behaved fruits, they can be eaten “au natural” – straight from the tree or baked, roasted, preserved or baked in pies or crumbles. They are also wonderful when added to roast meats and poultry.
The recipe I am sharing today is for another salad, a Fresh Fig Salad with Blue Cheese, Smoked Ham and Walnuts; it’s easy to throw together for an autumn dinner party, as a starter, or for a lazy luncheon or supper dish. I have suggested using escarole salad leaves, as they add a bitterness that offsets the sweetness of the figs, saltiness of the cheese and smokiness of the ham – it’s all a rather wonderful combination and is a portrait on a plate.
Make a fresh French dressing or use a high quality commercial one and you will be rewarded with a plate of Autumn Still Life, but with taste!
Fresh Fig Salad with Blue Cheese, Smoked Ham and Walnuts
(Serves 2 to 3 people as a main meal)
100g or 1 small escarole lettuce, washed and leaves torn if too large
50g blue cheese, of your choice, crumbled
50g thinly sliced smoked ham, torn into pieces
12 to 16 fresh figs, halved or quartered according to size
40g walnut halves, broken into small pieces
Salad dressing of your choice
Arrange the escarole salad leaves on a plate and then add the crumbled cheese, smoked ham and fresh figs.
Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad and scatter the walnuts over the top.
Serve with fresh, crusty bread and extra salad dressing on the side.
For more delicious fig recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.
The Spicy Pear
I love the combination of the sweet figs, smoky ham, salty cheese, and nutty walnuts. Delicious.
6 October 2013