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Sunday, June 8, 2014

MISSION: FIGS - In Season & Ready To Eat

Mission Figs (come into season in June), Photo: NK
So much of my weekly menu-making is dictated by what looks fresh and in season at the market. When I am not ordering the heck out of the great produce often available at Freshdirect.com, I am perusing the aisles at specialty stores and, when I can, farm stands. Nothing brings me inspiration faster than grabbing a good lookin' ingredient and building a menu around it. 

Entire food movements swing on this very basic principle, and you don't need to be a serious home cook to benefit from using it yourself. 

Next time you have the urge to create something in the kitchen, try starting with whatever item calls to you, and build and research what you'll do with it from there. With the internet at all of our fingertips, there's never been an easier time to get creative. Today's ingredient muse is in-season Figs, just now appearing on the scene at stores everywhere. The world of figs is a wide one, but we'll be using the well known Mission Fig variety. 

Beautifully ripe, Photo: NK 

With these beauties ready for prime time, I decided I'd turn them into a very simple yet flavorful salad using just a few ingredients. Peppery Arugula would be a great foil for the sweetness of the Figs. A mellow mix of Balsamic Vinegar,Olive Oil, and a bit of Dijon Mustard serves both as a marinade for the Figs and a light dressing to tie the greens together. Shaved Parmgiana curls provide the salty counterpoint. Let your figs sit for thirty minutes in the marinade, and from there, this 4-ingredient salad makes itself. Dress it just before serving and enjoy (and never forget to let the season inspire you!). 

Marinated Fig & Arugula Salad, Photo: NK 

Marinated Fig & Arugula Salad

Loosely adapted from Southern Living
Serves 4 

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons Agave or Honey
1 teaspoon Grainy Dijon Mustard
A few pinches of Salt
A few pinches of Black Pepper
8 Ripe Figs, sliced in half (we opted for Mission Figs)  

1/8 Lb Parmigiana Cheese, shaved into curls 
5 Ounces Wild Arugula (Rocket), hand torn
1/4 Small Red Onion, very thinly sliced

Method:
1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the Figs, gently stir, and allow the Figs to sit in the Marinade 30 Minutes. 

2. In another bowl, combine the Arugula with the sliced Red Onion. When Marinating has finished, spoon out a 2 to 3 Tablespoons of the Marinade onto the Arugula. Toss slowly and add additional dressing as needed, taking care not to overdress salad and make it soggy.

3. To serve, plate the arugula down the middle of each bowl. Place 4 of the marinated figs on each portion or to the side of it. Finish with shavings of Parmigiana cheese and some extra Black Pepper. Serve immediately. 

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