I have several of Yotam Ottlenghi‘s wonderful cookbooks and was delighted to have lunch at his restaurant in Islington years ago while in London. Gorgeous platters of salads and other colorful dishes were beautifully displayed in the windows, tempting those patrons walking by or waiting to get in. The seating was mainly family style except for a few small tables; the vibe was laid back and friendly, just as I like it. I adore dishes like this that can sit at room temperature, ready for you whenever you are ready to enjoy.
In his cookbook Ottolenghi, he calls for rocket/arugula, which I love – but here, I used mixed greens from my garden boxes and radicchio to replace the peppery arugula. I added torn pieces of prosciutto, basil leaves, and toasted pine nuts. He suggests young pecorino cheese if you can find it; I used my favorite marinated sheep and goat cheese from Meredith Dairy. The simple honey and olive oil dressing is the perfect complement to the medley of flavors and textures. I agree with Yotam you must use good-quality honey, olive oil, and perfectly ripe figs. If you want to make it vegetarian, just omit the prosciutto, and add some black-cured olives. The figs are really the star of this salad, even though they are not the protein.
Still dreaming about it this salad, but out of figs, I used a ripe peach in its place, and some pepitas instead of pine nuts, and it was equally as delicious! The salad is easy to customize, with what is seasonal and available in your area.
Ottolenghi-inspired Fig Salad Medley
- 1 - 1 1/4 lb black mission or green figs about 12-16 figs
- 1/2 lb marinated goat and/or sheep cheese or other soft, tangy, creamy cheese you can tear or crumble
- 3 tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil if using marinted cheese, some from the jar works well
- 1 tbsp high quality honey preferably local
- 4 handfuls mixed greens of choice
- 1/4 head radicchio sliced thin
- 12-16 leaves fresh basil
- coarse sea salt such as Maldon, to taste
- 2 tbsp pine nuts walnuts or pepitas also nice
- fresh ground glack pepper to taste
- Toast pine nuts in dry pan on low heat for 5 minutes, remove. Watch carefully they burn quickly!
- Wash and cut figs in half, set aside.
- On a platter or 4 individual serving plates, divide up the greens, radicchio, cheese, basil leaves and fig halves and sprinkle pine nuts on top.
- Whisk together olive oil and honey, season with salt and pepper to taste. (If honey is stick put the olive oil and honey in microwave for just a few seconds to help incorporate.) Drizzle all over salad, add a few more cracks of fresh ground pepper, and serve.