Touch me: it is softness of good satin, and when you open me, what an unexpected rose!
Gabriella Mistral, The Fig
The Fig. Much has been said, much has been alluded. It’s leaves, the symbol of modesty and a repentant shame. The fruit, a plump pear-bottomed drop, aligning to the male form from the outside and decidedly female once the flesh has been broken.
And so, thousands of years after the ancients have eaten, cooked with and used in potions, metaphored poetry, love letters and song, you may still be slighly uncomfortable with all that the fig symbolises.
I am slightly, just writing this.
But I have no problem eating and cooking with figs. In my last post, I shared my cooking adventures at African Relishin the Karoo, where I ate and cooked with green figs. They were ripe and delicious, but not the black beauties I was after.
Imagine my surprise when Vanie, chef at African Relish and new pal, made an impromptu visit to us on Friday, a tray of ripe, purplish Adam’s figs in hand- the first of the new season.
The Adam’s figs are honey sweet and an intense pink, almost a magenta on the inside. They are the mysterious temptresses with forbidden interiors that the poets wax lyrical about.
We have since shared them, enjoyed them with vanilla ice-cream, baked with gorgonzola (still not the husband’s favourite) and used them to adorn this salad.
I usually make this fig salad with standard crema de balsamico (a sweet, reduced balsamic vinegar) and peppery baby rocket, which provides a nice contrast to the sweet figs and the rich mascarpone. I used baby beetroot and other mixed leaves this time and a ginger balsamic for a bit of bite. Play around with the combinations. If you don’t fancy mascarpone try it with a salty halloumi (pan fried or grilled) or even goats milk feta or balls of buffalo mozzarella. A blue cheese, would also be a natural partnership.
I also added Medeterranean figs, that I had at hand- grown locally. Double the figs, double the pleasure!
Indulgent Fig & Dolce Mascarpone Salad
6 Adams Figs, quartered
4 Mediterranean figs, halved (optional) * these were grown locally
100g dolce mascarpone (mascarpone compressed with dried fruit and nuts and sold in slices), cut into cubes. You could also scoop out balls of regular mascarpone and scatter roasted hazelnuts or walnuts over.
80g baby rocket or other leaves
ginger infused balsamic to drizzle
Strands of beetroot (optional)
extra virgin olive oil (optional)
The beauty of a salad is that the assembly is so quick!
Arrange leaves on platter. Add figs and mascarpone. Scatter beetroot strands.
Drizzle with balsamic and olive oil if desired.
Serve and enjoy!
Some inspiration for you to share with the one/s you love:
” On a balmy midsummer evening, wrap up your al fresco meal
at the warped wooden table under the plane tree
with blistered grilled figs, spoonfuls of soft mascarpone
drizzled with orange blossom and rose water.
Smell the mimosa.
Don’t wipe the sugary smudge from your chin.
Carry the sated silence to bed.”
Michelle McGraine, Thirteen Ways with Figs
This post is featured on CapeTown Magazine, the finger on the Mother City’s pulse!
For more delicious treats, click on their recipes section.