Sunday, October 16, 2011

Summer Salad with Figs and Ricotta [Zack]

If you don’t know what weather in Belgium is like, picture London or Seattle.  It has rained at least once a day for each of the 3 months of “summer”, was just warm enough to wear t-shirts, and cloudy even at night.  I’m guessing it rendered more than one weatherman useless (and jobless) because the weather really lacks variety.  I don’t mind the rain, but when the weather god(s?) decide to give us a nice day or two, I really appreciate the sunshine.  To take advantage, almost every Belgian goes on long walks, rides his bike everywhere, sits on terraces with a cold beer in hand, and enjoys the precious days while they last. 

Matt, you aren’t allowed to comment about your beautiful sunshine in Cali.

In celebration of the summer season coming to an end, I decided to make a fresh salad for lunch.  The combination of sweet and savory is one of my favorites, but the dish still ends up feeling light and relatively healthy.  Enjoy this one on a nice day with a cool glass of wine - hopefully on a porch swing.


This recipe has a few things to assemble and place in the oven at once.  It takes a bit of advance prep-work, but if you run short on time you can omit the bacon-wrapped goat cheese bites and the phyllo “croutons”.

I posted on the phyllo croutons earlier - they are really easy to make.  Caramelize your onions and apples for your croutons.  Put them into your defrosted phyllo cups and top with brie cheese.  Set aside – you’ll put these in the oven with the rest of the salad components.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and start to prepare your bacon-wrapped goat cheese bites.  You can most likely find these pre-made in your grocery store.  If not, buy goat cheese with similar consistency of feta (so it doesn’t melt too easily) and cut into squares or circles.  Wrap with your favorite bacon.  Place these in a baking dish or sauce pan.  They will go in the oven at the same time as the figs (for ~15-20 mins) until the bacon browns nicely.

Stand the figs up on their flat bottoms.  Cut off the stemmy end of the fig.

Make a cut in the shape of an X ¾ of the way down the fig.

Gently pinch the base of the fig to open it up like a flower.

Lay them out on a tray with enough space between them so they open up and caramelize.  Drizzle olive oil on them and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Add a handful of pine nuts to one of your baking trays.  Now you are ready to place the phyllo croutons, figs, and bacon goat cheese in the oven at the same time.  Make sure that the pine nuts don't burn - they toast quickly!

Get a small sauce pot of balsamic vinegar slowly reducing on low heat while you prepare the rest of the salad. It should coat the back of a spoon when finished.

To prepare the ricotta filling, simply open your ricotta container and grind pepper in it to taste.

Now it’s time to make your dressing.  Dice some garlic and place it in a bowl.  Add the vinegar, mustard, and soy sauce and mix.  Whisk to combine the mustard.  Then add in the olive oil and mix until you get an emulsion. 

Everything in the oven should be finished around the same time - the figs should be nicely browned, the cheese melted on the croutons, and bacon nice and crispy on the goat cheese.

Take everything out of the oven and dress your salad.  Put the figs on your plate and put a dollop of ricotta in each of them.  Drizzle the balsamic over the top of them.  Add the croutons and bacon goat cheese bites and serve.

Makes ~4 medium-sized salads

firm goat cheese squares wrapped in bacon
toasted pine nuts
8 fresh figs
Dash of olive oil
½ cup ricotta
Cracked black pepper
Fresh salad greens (you can choose the variety – I like some rocket in there)

Reduced balsamic vinegar (optional)

Phyllo cup “croutons” (optional – this recipe will make more than you need)
24 phyllo cups
1 diced apple
1 diced onion, caramelized
brie cheese
sprig of thyme

Balsamic dressing (follow this recipe, but substitute the apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar)
½ c balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 cloves finely minced garlic
2-3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 ¼ c. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Jamiroquai – you give me something

No comments:

Post a Comment