Given the number of recipes I’ve posted containing figs, perhaps they should have their own category; ‘My Favorite Fruit’. There’s something luxurious about a big fat fig and I love them so much that I wish I had my own fig tree.
Figs are especially versatile; I’ve used dried figs in pizza; simmered them with fresh ginger, lemon zest, honey and cinnamon, to serve over vanilla ice cream or as a topping for a lemony cheesecake; I’ve baked fresh figs with soft goat cheese, honey and thyme on their own and filled a puff pastry case with them for a lovely summery open tart; they’ve been baked into a moist cake and poached with cardamom, orange and rosewater …the possibilities are endless when it comes to figs.
Here I’ve used dried black Mission figs in a salad dressing that’s so rich tasting and complex, it needs little else apart from your favorite salad leaves and a few crumbles of blue Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese. The result is a wonderful winter salad that’s worthy of any elegant dinner party.
The dressing can be made 3-4 days ahead and kept refrigerated. It needs to be warmed gently before serving.
WARM FIG & STILTON SALAD with a PORT-WINE DRESSING
Ingredients for the dressing:
3/4 cup (180ml) of port
¼ cup (60ml) of dry red wine
¼ cup (60ml) of light olive oil
2 tablespoons of toasted hazelnut or walnut oil
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
½ tablespoon of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce (shake it well first)
1 tablespoon of sugar
½ tablespoon of molasses
1 tablespoon of finely minced shallot
9 oz (255g) of dried black Mission figs, stems trimmed and halved lengthways
And to serve…
1 packet of mixed greens, approx 5 oz (145g)
4 oz (114g) of Stilton or Gorgonzola, crumbled
Combine all the dressing ingredients including the figs in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, simmer until its slightly syrupy – approx 8-10 minutes.
Cool slightly and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Arrange the leaves on 6 salad plates, top with cheese crumbles and gently ladle the warm dressing over. Serve immediately.