Notes from the Test Kitchen: Figs galore!
They're in season, and we need recipes! It's a request we get in the Test Kitchen every now and again, as some wonderful fruit or vegetable comes into season and we want to make the most of its abundance.
And so it was with figs. The kitchen was requested — last summer actually — to either create or test various recipes for the amazing figs everyone was finding. We came up with four. One recipe ran just toward the end of the season last year, an adaptation of Rose Levy Berenbaum's amazing fig and mascarpone tart. The remaining were held in reserve until the season rolled around again.
Here we are, finally! This week Russ has a Farmer's Market column on figs, and we've included recipes for a grilled fig salad and warm fig salsa. But we've got one more for you: Roasted Figs With Blue Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Wild Honey from Literati 2. The recipe is adapted from Chris Kidder, former chef of the restaurant (he's since left to pursue other ventures), and was something we just had to share.
1 basket fresh figs, preferably Turkey or Mission, 15 to 20 pieces
6 to 8 ounces good-quality blue cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 tablespoon wild honey
1teaspoon sea salt
1 dozen arugula leaves, preferably wild*
4 to 6 fresh fig leaves, optional*
1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Keeping the stems intact, make a cut in the figs from the stem toward the base, halving the figs, but stop two-thirds of the way down, being careful not to cut all the way through. Turn the figs 90 degrees, and slice again two-thirds of the way down to the base. Open the fig by gently pulling the "petals" back a bit.
2. Place a small piece of cheese, about a teaspoon, in the center of each fig. The amount will vary depending on the size of the fig.
3. Select a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold all the figs side by side and line it with the optional fig leaves. Place the stuffed figs in the dish, stem side up. Drizzle the vinegar and olive oil evenly over the figs and sprinkle with the sea salt.
4. Place the dish in the oven and roast until the cheese is warmed and a bit runny and the figs are cooked and just browning on the tops, about 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the roasted figs and drizzle over the honey. Scatter the arugula over the top and serve immediately.
* Wild arugula and fresh fig leaves are available at selected farmer's markets.
— Noelle Carter
Photos by Bob Chamberlin and Noelle Carter