For me, September is a month that houses: an anniversary (this year's marks 2 years in Paris); the first glimmers of seasonal change (the plant life most eager for autumn let their foliage colour and drop); and a generosity of figs. After a brief, flirtatious burst of them at the advent of summer, we now welcome a longer, less urgent, romance with figs that trails onward from the tail-end of August.
And so it's the time to cook with them, to experiment with them (and of course, simply eat them as they are). Below is a recipe for a salad that hallmarks figs as the centerpiece. I enjoyed a salad very similar to this one in Corfu Town, at a lovely café-bistro called Old Times at the end of August. It was that salad that influenced the making of this one.
And while figs are the salad's heart, the earthy taste and texture of hazelnuts, pungent creaminess of blue cheese and sweet acidity of oranges play flavour roles that are just as significant. Nearly.
P.s. Last September I reflected on figs (metaphorically) when I was acknowledging my first year of living in France.
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Servings: 2 big servings or 4 little ones
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into thin crescents
- 4 figs, washed and quartered
- handful chopped hazelnuts
- 120g roquefort or other blue cheese, broken into small chunks
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp butter
- a big pile of rocket leaves or other green salad leaves
- option: small purple onion, finely sliced
For the dressing (feel free to double the quantity if you like lots of dressing):
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- salt and pepper
- Place all dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.
- Put the butter and honey in a pan, allow them to melt and combine, and when you feel that the pan is hot enough, throw in the figs.
- Cook each side of the figs for no more than a minute on medium heat. You'll probably notice that some of the fig seeds and inner flesh will combine with the butter and honey, forming a syrupy jam.
- Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Place all other salad ingredients in a serving bowl, presenting them as you like. If you wish, reserve some of the hazelnuts and cheese for decorating.
- Layer on the figs and the jam-like liquid, which should still be a little warm.
- Decorate with leftover hazelnuts and cheese, distribute the dressing over the top, and serve immediately.