It's fig time here in SW France, and I have been busy making up new fig recipes, as well as making jams, pickles, alcohol steeped figs and chutneys with all our harvest! This was thrown together one Sunday afternoon as a starter for a lazy Al Fresco Sunday lunch - and since then I have had requests for it nearly every day! If you are lucky enough to have a fig tree, try and garnish the individual plates with a couple of washed leaves - it really adds a certain panache to the appearance of the salad! I have made this with Chevre - Goat's Cheese as well as Feta, and it was just as delicious. Amounts given are for a starter for 6 people - and assuming that the figs are medium to large in size; please adjust the quantities if necessary. Toasting the walnuts beforehand is well worth the effort, and if you toast more than is needed, any excess can be stored in an airtight container.
- Toasted Walnuts:.
- In a large, heavy frying pan, over a high heat, toast the walnuts for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Put the vinegar and a good pinch of salt and black pepper in a screw-top jar and shake until the salt has dissolved. Add the mustard and walnut oil, then shake again to emulsify – the emulsion will hold for ten minutes or so, but give it another jiggle just before you use it to dress the salad.
- Wipe the fresh figs gently, and cut them in half. Arrange them on a large platter, OR on individual plates - allowing 4 to 5 fresh figs per person, depending on the size.
- Sprinkle 1 to 1 1/2 ozs of crumbled feta or goat's cheese per person, over the top of the fresh figs.
- Scatter the chopped,toasted walnuts over the fig salad.
- Just before serving, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad, and garnish each plate with 1 - 2 fresh fig leaves if available.
- Serve with crusty bread and butter.
- Can also be served as a dessert/cheese course combined.