>> Thursday, October 21, 2010

When I was small all the adults in my family loved figs, but I wasn’t convinced. They were sweet which was good, but floury and sticky which was just odd. My grandparents had a green fig tree out the front of their house which was an enormous, chaotic thing; knobbly and beautiful with star-shaped leaves. Late in the summer my grandfather would cover the tiny fig buds with plastic bags securing them tightly against ravenous birds. Once they were ready, he’d unwrap them and send us home with bags stretched full of soft purple-green fruit. I’m not sure what we made with them. I think my grandmother would sometimes make fig jam, but I’m pretty sure most of them were eaten fresh.

While figs are still not my favourite fresh fruit, I love them dried or cooked and am starting to enjoy fresh figs thinly sliced like an apple or included as part of a dessert.

Figs are in season in the northern hemisphere at the moment. I’m not sure how successfully figs can be grown in England, but the Black Bursa figs from Turkey are currently flooding the markets and supermarkets. The Waitrose magazine had an article on Black Bursas with a suggestion to serve them with feta, walnuts and mint which sounded lovely and perfect as an accompaniment to the roast pork we were having on Sunday night a few weeks ago. Pork goes extremely well with fruit - particularly that which has been stewed down or caramelised in some way, so instead of serving the figs fresh I decided to douse them in honey and bake them until they were sweet, sticky and soft.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd never tried figs in a salad before. Chris grabbed a mouthful before we'd plated up and told me not to worry; it was delicious. And it was. The feta is wonderfully salty against the sugary chewiness of the figs; the mint leaves fresh alongside the moreish crunch of the walnuts.

The only thing I might tweak next time is to chop the walnuts slightly after toasting them as the whole walnut halves have a tendency to overpower the other flavours.

Now if only I had a bag or two of those beautiful figs my grandad used to give us, I could make this salad to my heart's content....


4 figs
4 tablespoons liquid honey
150g feta
¼ cup walnuts
3 or 4 stems of fresh mint, leaves picked

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and toast the walnuts for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool.
2. Slice the figs into eighths and toss on a baking tray with the honey.
3. Bake for 20-30 minutes until caramelised and fragrant, turning once or twice during cooking.
4. Lay cooked figs out over a serving platter and drizzle with the remaining pan juices.
5. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta, toasted walnuts and fresh mint leaves.
6. Serve at room temperature with roasted or grilled meat, on top of bruschetta or as part of a selection of mezze.

Serves two.


Erica Newhouse-Kasper November 10, 2010 at 5:11 PM  

Oh my goodness this looks good! I'll have to look for figs next time I go shopping.

natalie November 11, 2010 at 11:03 AM  

Erica - Definitely hunt some down before the prices start to rise again! It really was delicious, in fact I think I'll have to make it again this weekend.

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