I'm really enjoying this theme of using simple but fantastic ingredients and doing almost nothing to them. Much like the shaved summer squash salad of a few weeks ago, these perfectly ripe figs were spectacular with a bare minimum of manipulation. I think I would like to do a whole dinner party where every course followed this aesthetic.
[By the way, I'll be announcing the winner of the cookbook for each week's recipe testers over on the Herbivoracious facebook page each Wednesday.]
This is quite a few adornments for a fig, but what makes it work is that you use tiny amounts of most of them. Each bite becomes exciting and different; one tastes like citrus and the next of herb, and another has the metallic tang of saffron.
You can add a little visual interest by cutting the figs "randomly", that is not parallel or perpendicular to the base.
Needless to say, I'll give you a recipe, but you should absolutely take this as a concept and run with it in any direction you like. The same idea would work with a perfect peach. The lime could be lemon or yuzu or nothing. Tarragon could be shiso or basil or anise hyssop. Honey could be elderberry syrup or a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar.
By the way, a great free tool both for discovering and storing these types of flavor combinations is Cuuks.com.
Figs and Ricotta
Vegetarian and gluten-free
- 1/2 cup Calabro ricotta (or homemade)
- 4 perfectly ripe figs
- 1/4 cup blackberry honey
- 8 small strips of lime zest
- 12 fresh tarragon leaves
- big pinch of saffron, crushed
- pyramidal sea salt
- Form the ricotta into quenelles and put one in each of 4 bowls.
- Cut each fig into 3 odd-shaped pieces, and put the pieces from 1 fig in each bowl.
- Drizzle the honey in the bottom of bowls.
- Garnish each bowl with 2 strips of lime zest and 3 leaves of tarragon. Sprinkle the saffron powder in a fine line on the ricotta. Distribute a few crystals of salt in each bowl and serve immediately.