One of my favorite things about summers is the fig season, which is relatively short lived, lasting anywhere between 6-8 weeks. Although you can always buy figs in the dried form or as preserves etc., I have always had a soft spot for the fresh ones. Fresh Figs don’t taste anything like the chewy, dried ones. When ripe they are full of flavour that is slightly sweet and crunchy, and they have the added bonus of being an aphrodisiac. I am surprised at how so many people I know have never tried fresh figs! You are definitely missing out on something if you haven’t.
In my fig induced excitement I ended up with a large crate full of them and then had to think of ways to use them. One fig loaf and 2 salads later, I was in fig heaven. AS loves this salad, it’s one of his favorites and his eyes light up everytime he hears the words. This fig salad is ridiculously simple to make and the focus is on the best quality fresh ingredients you can buy. I used goat cheese in this recipe as I had that on hand fresh from the farmers market, but you can use any kind of cheese that has a sharp flavour.
If I had my way I would make this with blue stilton, as the sharp pungent taste of the soft cheese contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the figs, and freshness of basil. Alas! I don’t; as the husband can’t stand the stinky blue cheese, so I play it safe with a crowd pleaser like goat cheese or sharp vintage cheddar or aged gouda. Just whatever is easily available and does not burn a hole in the pocket. I am partial to pecans as my choice of nuts for this salad but walnuts or brazil nuts would work just as well. The dressing is simple mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honey. This salad takes under ten minutes to assemble as there isn’t a lot of chopping required and looks like a million bucks when ready. You can make it as an appetizer or a classic side-dish.
Fresh Figs, Pecans, Basil and Goat Cheese Salad
*You can substitute basil leaves with arugula (rocket leaves). The peppery taste of arugula goes well with the figs and cheese.
*This salad is best served cold, so refrigerate the ingredients before assembling. Alternatively, you can also assemble the whole salad (minus the dressing) before and pop it in the fridge. Just it out a few minutes before serving and drizzle the dressing on.