Fresh figs abound at this time of year and I can honestly say that I'd never had one until this week. Guess I'm getting adventurous as time goes by. Everyone knows that the Barefoot Contessa i.e. Ina Garten is one of my favorite cookbook authors. In nine books, with the scores of her recipes that I've made, I can count on one hand the number that we didn't care for. Given those odds, I decided to try the Warm Fig & Arugula Salad in her latest book Make It Ahead. I adore peppery arugula, Peter loves piquant blue cheese, and we both appreciate a good toasted walnut, so how bad could this be adding fresh warm figs. This was one of the best (and simplest) salads we've ever had and the sherry vinegar and honey vinaigrette finished it perfectly.
Warm Fig & Arugula Salad
8 to 12 ripe fresh figs, depending on their size
1 cup whole walnut halves (4 ounces)
8 to 10 cups baby arugula (9 ounces)
8 ounces crumbled Roquefort/ blue cheese
½ cup aged sherry vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup good olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil. Set aside.
Remove the stems from the figs with a small knife. Depending on the sizes, cut the figs in half or quarters through the stem end. Place the figs and walnuts together in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the figs, until they begin to release some of their juices.
Meanwhile, place arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well. Distribute the arugula among 6 salad plates, add the Roquefort/ blue cheese, and then place the warm figs and walnuts on top. Serve immediately.