Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Figs and Honey, and three late Summer Salads...




Figs are something new to me - I've never eaten them or cooked with them much, so my knowledge of figs consists mostly of Fig Newtons, and the commercial that deemed them as "not a cookie, but fruit and cake!"





But I recently bought some figs at the grocery store because I wanted to use them in a salad, both whole, and in a vinaigrette.  I started by making a paste of figs, honey, ground cloves and water, which became something truly wonderful - I might even call it Fig Honey Butter, since the flavor and consistency was very similar to apple butter.  





You might think it was apple butter if you didn't know better, except for the tiny little fig seeds flecked throughout.  Fig Honey Butter sounds more appealing than fig honey paste, although maybe misleading since there's no butter in it at all.  But either way, it was delicious, and I currently have a jar of it in my fridge that we've enjoyed on bread this week.




The Fig Honey Butter is the foundation for the vinaigrette.  After making the butter, you'll reserve just a small amount, which will then get diluted further with more water and a little red wine vinegar, to create a really lovely salad dressing.  The vinaigrette perfectly complemented the greens, goat cheese, chopped figs and candied walnuts we ate with our dinner with my parents last Saturday night.





For a light snack on Sunday, I made a quick salad of a few leftover ingredients - cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and grilled corn, all drizzled with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with lemon zest, salt and pepper.  If I had any cucumber in the fridge, that would have gone great with this as well.  




This was really refreshing and not at all heavy, when you just need something simple to tide you over until dinner.





Another favorite is zucchini "pasta" which is not pasta at all, but a salad.  Very simply, this is zucchini sliced into very thin julienned strips, preferably with a julienne peeler, but you could use a knife, and tossed with olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper, and maybe a little fresh tomato and/or sliced almonds.  Add a piece of salmon and you have a nice light warm-weather dinner.  I posted this recipe a few months ago, but I have a nicer photo now.  :)







Fig Honey Butter
(makes 2 cups)
  • 1 cup figs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • pinch cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups water
Place figs, honey, cloves and 1 cup of water in a container, and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.  Gradually add more water until desired consistency is reached.  Spread on muffins, toast, etc, as you would apple butter.


Fig Honey Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup Fig Honey Butter (recipe above)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Puree ingredients using an immersion blender until smooth.  Use as a dressing on salads.

Candied Walnuts
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch cloves
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (or substitute pecans)
Preheat the oven to 300 F and cover a baking sheet with foil.  In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except for the walnuts, until well incorporated.  Add the walnuts and stir to coat them completely.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once.  Remove from the oven, stir again, and cool completely before storing.

(Salads for Two)
Fig, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut Salad with Fig Honey Vinaigrette
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 3-4 tablespoons fig honey vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • 6 figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup candied walnuts
  • salt and pepper
Toss the greens with the vinaigrette until coated.  Divide between two serving dishes.  Top with the figs, goat cheese and walnuts, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella and Grilled Corn Salad
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup small, fresh mozzarella balls, halved
  • 1 ear of grilled corn, cold, sliced off the cob
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • cucumber, zucchini, onion, etc, if available, diced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients.  Eat! :)


For the Zucchini "Pasta", click here for a previously posted recipe.  :)