Late Summer and Early Autumn are peak time for figs. Any other time of the year, you will probably be getting fruit from great distances and, as figs don’t ripen after picking, this normally means that they are bland and dry. A great fig should look like it’s just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet. Once you’ve managed to find a fig that meets all these criteria, I guarantee a heavenly experience.
The unctuous sweetness of a fresh fig, combined with its ripe-rich texture, is unbeatable. I have been picking figs from a local estate, to make jam, and can tell you that nothing beats them straight from a tree. This salad was made with the left over, over-ripe figs.
This is an Ottolenghi recipe, from Plenty. Relatively easy, for an Ottolenghi recipe, it can be made at the last minute. Phew! So many of his recipes take an hour or 3 to make.
Similar recipes include Fig and Roasted Onion Salad, Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Fig and Halloumi Salad, Fennel and Fig Salad, Fig Salad with Almond Butter Dressing, and Fig Salad with Hazelnuts.
Figs with Basil, Goat Curd and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
1 shallot, finely chopped
0.5 tspn Dijon mustard
2 tspn pomegranate molasses (purchased or home made)
3 Tblspn olive oil, plus extra to finish
40g rocket or other soft lettuce if rocket is not available
20g mixed purple and green basil leaves, Thai Basil leaves and/or Indian Holy Basil leaves (Tulsi)
8 ripe figs, at room temperature
70g creamy goat’s feta or goat’s curd, or a young and creamy goat’s cheese -even very thick yoghurt can be used
sea salt and black pepper
Put the shallot, mustard and pomegranate molasses in a bowl, season, then slowly whisk in the oil – you’re aiming for a homogenous dressing. Add most of the rocket and basil to the dressing, reserving some to finish off the salad, and toss gently.
Lift the dressed leaves on to a big serving plate. Cut the figs into four lengthways and arrange on top. Dot the figs and leaves with teaspoons of feta or curd, scatter the saved leaves on top, drizzle with oil and season again.
Scatter some toasted, slivered almonds over the top to add a little crunch to the salad.