Folks, I believe that, at some point in the months since I began this site, I declared my fervency for vegetables, fruits, and all things sweet. Despite my realization tonight that this is my first post that includes some sort of meat, I am not a vegetarian. As you have probably gathered, however, I do not have a separate meat or fish course every dinner. If a protein other than dairy or eggs finds its way into my recipes, great. If not, I usually do not miss it.
These roasted figs are a big exception.
Figs, prosciutto crudo, gorgonzola, and walnuts. Let me start by saying that figs alone are not to be trifled with. They stand alone. A perfectly ripe fig with soft-skin tearing from the sugars and dewy with a honey-like juice is just heaven. Add a salty and barely stinky cheese like a feta, robbiola, pecorino toscano, or ricotta salata and you have a decadent lunch. Toasted nuts on hand? Nirvana.
If, however, you add a favorite prosciutto crudo to the fig-cheese-walnut synergy and let it crispen along the edges, you have one of the most wonderful meals known to mankind.
Hyperbolic? Just try it and I think you will agree.
As the four ingredients roast together, the bursting-with-flavor figs begin to caramelize, like a good jam. Juices spill out from the fruit and bubble together with some of the melted gorgonzola cheese and the sizzling prosciutto fat.
These juices are irresistible. I always dip my finger in the little pools of umami-sweet jam leftover on the roasting pan. Since I am always a sucker for a phenomenal salad, I opted to use those juices on some of my favorite lettuces available in our backyard right now: mache (also known as valeriana and corn lettuce) and wild arugula.
Whatever you do, pick light, small greens–nothing watery or robust like iceberg or romaine lettuce. This is key because when you lay the warm roasted figs on your bed of lettuce, those jammy juices will release each time you slice through and subsequently coast the little salad greens. Enjoy!
Roasted Fig Salad with Gorgonzola, Prosciutto, and Walnuts
4 large or 6 small figs, sliced in half lengthwise
slab of gorgonzola cheese (“piccante” will melt slowly and “dolce” more quickly)
4 to 6 slices of prosciutto crudo, sliced in half lengthwise
8 to 12 raw walnut halves
Mache lettuce and arugula, or whatever delicate lettuces you have on hand.
Preheat the oven to 400. Wrap each fig half with half a slice of prosciutto. Lay on your roasting pan rounded side down and top with a small piece of gorgonzola (about the size of a nickel or quarter) and a walnut half. Roast in the center of the oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and the edges of the prosciutto are crispy. Be careful not to let the walnuts blacken.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute before placing atop a bed of lettuces on each plate.