Southern Eats

          Fig Salad          

This started as a recipe from a Diane Mott Davidson mystery book which I adapted to use the fresh figs from my mother's trees in her yard. Now that I don't live where I have access to fresh figs, I have modified it again to use dried ones.

8 dried figs with stems removed
1/2 cup ruby port
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 oz. hazelnuts or filberts
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
2 oz. chevre (plain goat cheese), softened and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
8 cups of mixed baby greens (usually called spring mix in the store)

Place dried figs in a bowl and cover with port. Let sit for at least 2 hours to rehyradte. You can use the left over port for the amount required later. Put the rehydrated figs in a small pot along with the port and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover the pot and lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the figs and save the liquid to use later. Cut the figs into quarters and set aside.

In a frying pan, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat when they look toasted, cool them, and chop them up.

Put the liquid left from the figs back on the stove over low heat and add the balsamic vinegar, shallot, oil, seasonings, and chevre. Stir well and add the figs. Raise the heat to medium-low and keep stirring until all the cheese has melted.

Toss the greens with the warm dressing and sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Best when served immediately. Makes about six servings.

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