Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hey baby...looking for a date?'s a fig actually, but thanks for asking.

I'm not particularly proud to say this, but around the neighborhood I'm known as the local fruit hussy.

Patrick's plums, Joe's apricots, Larry's pears, Bill's lemons, Domingo's figs...and I have my eye on Andy's peaches. I dare say, the list goes on...

Come harvest time, my neighbors know to expect a knock on the door, or perhaps the familiar site of my hand groping blindly over the fence to snatch their low hanging fruit.

I've also been known to park my SUV along my neighbors' tree-lined driveways so I can climb up the hood and straddle the sunroof (don't tell Charlie I cracked it last fall) to pluck the juiciest specimens. The kids have gotten used to waiting in the getaway car, motor running...they just know to lean down low so that their friends don't see them as their mother commits several misdemeanors in the name of produce.

"Why not just bask in the bounty of our local farmers' market?" you ask. A few reasons...1.) sense of community...sharing like this just feels so old-fashioned to me and my friends know that when I come-a-knockin' they'll end up with less rotten fruit on their pavement and more pear chutney in their pantries 2.) the thrill of the hunt...nothing like swinging from a tree to earn your meal and 3.) I'm wicked cheap and this fruit is free!

So, the other day Domingo called to let me know that his figs were ripe-for-the-pickin'. Sure enough, I climbed up onto my potting shed table, peered over the fence and caught a glimpse of this little jewel of purple plumpness dangling just within my reach. I snapped a shot just before plucking it, along with as many more of its succulent sisters that would fit in the front pocket of my sweatshirt.

There's lots of fun stuff to make with these little beauties including fig jam, fig tarts, roasted fig appetizers but today I'm choosing to share with you the easiest and tastiest recipe of all...perfect as the starter of any fall menu or, as Carly and I have been known to do, enjoy alone as a fancy-feeling weekend light lunch when the guys are out eating large slabs of red meat somewhere else.

Thanks again Domingo for indulging my botanical kleptomania...and Bill...don't think I haven't noticed that those lemons look like they're juicin' up real nice...any day now. Kids...keep the motor running!

Roasted Fig Prosciutto and Blue Cheese Salad
with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the dressing...


  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste

Whisk in:

  • 1/3 cup of olive oil

For the salad...

Slice lengthwise:

  • 4 ripe figs

Wrap figs in:

  • 8 generous slices of prosciutto

Roast figs on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes until they are soft and slightly caramelized.

Toss with dressing and divide among four plates

  • 5 cups fresh baby greens

Place 2 warm roasted figs on each plate of greens and crumble over

  • blue cheese to taste

Drizzle with more dressing to taste.

Serves 4

Try any combo of these variations: Double up on the amount of figs, mix blue cheese in with the dressing, slip the blue cheese under the prosciutto and roast with the figs, add candied nuts to the salad, try any other vinaigrette that appeals to you...this one is really unique and awesome:

Tangerine Vinaigrette

Mix in a small saucepan, boil and reduce by half:

  • 1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated tangerine zest

Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • tiny pinch of cinnamon