It’s fig season… again. If you’re scratching your head, and thinking that we just had a fig season, don’t worry your memory isn’t going soft. Figs are a bit unusual in that they have two seasons per year. With a smaller crop in spring and the main crop in early fall.
This is a ludicrously simple fig salad that uses only a handful of ingredients and yet it wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin starred restaurant. While the dish highlights the plump sweet figs glazed with balsamic vinegar, a salad of shredded endives dressed with oil roasted almonds provides some crunch, while the crumbled ricotta salata adds sharp, salty accents that keep the sweet figs in check.
Getting the almonds close to burnt without actually burning them imbues the salad with a marvelous nutty flavor and a savory crunch. Almonds start off browning very slowly, but once they start taking color, they go from light brown to black in a hurry so keep a close eye on them. Because the residual heat in the pan will continue browning the almonds, be sure to have your endives ready so you can toss them together as soon as the almonds are done.
For the balsamic try and find real aged balsamic vinegar that’s thick and syrupy, if you can’t afford the real stuff, go with one that’s been reduced to a thick syrup-like consistency as it will cling to your figs better.
Fig and Endive Salad
- 1 large endive
- .7 ounces (20 grams) almonds - blanched and sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 12.4 ounces (350 grams) figs (4 large figs), sliced into wedges
- 2.1 ounces (60 grams) ricotta salata, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- black pepper
- Slice the endive in half lengthwise and then shred the endive into thin slivers by slicing it at an angle.
- Put the shredded endive into a bowl of ice water and soak for 15 minutes.
- When the endive is done soaking, drain and then spin it in a salad spinner to dry. If you don't have a salad spinner, you can use paper towels to dry it. Put the endive in a large bowl.
- Add the almonds, olive oil and salt to a small frying pan and toast over medium heat until the almonds are a dark golden brown.
- Pour the hot almonds and oil onto the shredded endive and quickly toss to coat evenly.
- Plate the endive, figs and cheese and then drizzle everything with balsamic vinegar. Finish the salad with a grind of black pepper.
Yield: 2 large or 4 side salads
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marcs been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.