Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Molasses-Roasted Fig Salad with Arugula, Early Pears & Chèvre

{Or, What We Ate After the Storm}

I'm not going to tell you all the reprehensible things I uttered while trying, in vain, to get our antique generator started during the past three days of Hurricane Irene-inflicted power outage. I'm not going to tell you about bailing out the basement water by hand, slipping in the dark in my stupid rubber boots and falling one flight of stairs into six inches of basement flood-sludge. Or the bad corgi who went *swimming* in the six inches of basement flood-sludge just for corgyn kicks. Instead I'm going to tell you about this really killer salad my sisters and I made tonight with what was left over from the spoils of the fridge, because there's nothing like roasted figs (or a stiff drink) to make a grump feel chipper again.

Fact: figs are in season here in the Northeast. Fact: Irene blew down our beloved, ancient, hybridized some-sort-of-Asian pear tree, which was laden with fruit and a mere week away from being ripe for the picking (I cry. I cry). Fact: goat cheese, surprisingly, lasts a lot longer than you'd think without adequate refrigeration (I know you think that's gross/dangerous, but you should see the Mongolians and their gleeful consumption of non-refrigerated dairy products). Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful salad, right? And tonight, it was just what the doctor ordered: roasting the figs in molasses, cider vinegar and olive oil makes me weep it's so decadent, and you can't go wrong with baby arugula (unless you're one of those people who Doesn't Like Arugula and Doesn't Want to Talk About It). Thinly sliced sweet Asian pears ("early" pears in our case) give the salad a satisfying, jicama-like crunch, and the goat cheese rounds out all the flavors with a tangy zing. Yum, people. Try it out, don't be fussy with measurements, and give it your own twist. Then report back so we can gush about roasted figs together.

Molasses-Roasted Fig Salad with Arugula, Early Pears & Chèvre
Like most of my favorite meals, this really doesn't require exact measurements; taste as you go and trust your instincts. As for figs: you can't go wrong with black mission figs for gentle sweetness, but brown turkeys are a close second. And you lucky ducklings on the West Coast (and beyond) have plenty other marvelous varietals to choose from. This salad will feed three to four people.

1+ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
cracked black pepper to taste
12 ripe figs, quartered
2 medium-sized Asian pears, peeled and thinly sliced
arugula (also called rocket in some places)
1+ teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon good orange juice

Heat oven to 425. In a large bowl, beat first four ingredients with a whisk. Add figs, turning over gently to mix with liquid. With a thin slotted spoon, transfer figs to oiled, rimmed baking sheet, reserving liquid in bowl, and bake about ten minutes, or until juices around figs begin to caramelize.

While figs roast, slice pears (I put slices in a small bowl of cold water to keep them from browning).  Add brown sugar and orange juice to bowl of reserved liquid, plus a crack or two or salt and pepper if desired, and whisk again. Remove figs from oven and set aside to cool; immediately add liquid from bowl to hot baking sheet and whisk in brown caramelized bits stuck to pan. Pour back into bowl and season to taste; that's your vinaigrette. If eating immediately, toss arugula with vinaigrette and arrange in center of white plate. Top with figs, followed by crumbled chèvre, and rim with pears. For appealing presentation, drizzle last dregs of vinaigrette over pears, and crack entire plate with black pepper. Voilà, my dear salad-lovers. Voilà. Hope you all survived the hurricane none the worse for wear.


  1. Darn that Irene! Sounds like you had your fair share of trouble-and simultaneously it sounds like you invented one heavenly salad. (Only you could pull off such a feat!) Glad to hear you are safe my east coast friend

  2. oh no! you fell? poor thang. i wish scout and i could of been there to help around da farm! so glad you guys are all ok though. the salad lookes DIVINE and i can't wait to make it. miss you so much already! xoxo

  3. OH dear. I'm sorry for your loss of the pear tree. I'm also sorry about your basement sludge and swimmin' corgy.

    However, it really looks like you made lemonade of lemons, because that salad looks AMAZING. Figs are one of my most favorite food items. EVER.

  4. Good old, Biscuit.

    You have perfect timing, I must say. I have been eyeballing the figs at the markets, thinking to myself, what the hey-ull, can I do with this besides just eat them? Roasting with molasses? Genius. Thank you, thank you!

  5. But figs SCARE me! Here's hoping for the general regeneration of all.

  6. oh, HELLO. these components would be delicious all piled on a crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside baguette. i am also intimidated by figs, but this gives me encouragement to try them!

  7. Yum! I want that salad and that bad corgi.

  8. On lake Garda there are lifeguard dogs and some of them are Corgis. Don't tell biscuit, or he'll explain he was training and we all know it's a lie.
    I love fogs so much, and this salad looks delicious. I swear I never ever heard of roasted figs before.

  9. LPC- fear not the fig!

    And everyone else- glad I have some fellow fig-lovers out there. Also, how about all the above as a a PIZZA? Will someone do it with their own spin? With a balsamic reduction snauce.....

    And yes, NAUGHTY BISCUIT. God, for such a well-behaved old dog he can suddenly really pull out all the stops sometimes.

    Bobbi- where is this fantastical lake with magyk corgyn lifeguards? My god, if it's in Italy I'm THERE.

  10. Hi Lily! Those white plates are beautiful! Love!

  11. Yum. This looks so good! But I'll have to make it when I've got some girl friends coming over or something because Kirk hates fruit in salad AND he hates figs. :(

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