When I was first thinking of writing a blog, one of the names I pondered was “for the love of figs”. I did not go with that name, obviously, but it really speaks to my love, almost devotion to the fig. This is my favorite fruit. Absolutely. I love how well it pairs with honey and cheese, or even better, a balsamic glaze. One of my most popular posts of all time is my Fig and Goat Cheese Tart. I remember desperately wanting to make this tart for our annual Solstice Party, but figs were gone for the season. I was devastated. It was actually my facebook status; lamenting the departure of my beloved fruit. Figs grace us with their presence in the summer months, and then have a brief resurgence around Thanksgiving.
In this incarnation I pair my lovely fig with a pecan encrusted warmed goat cheese, and serve over a bed of arugula with a champagne vinaigrette. Warmed goat cheese smothered in toasted pecans might just be one of those foods you request as your last meal. Really though, you should request this salad. The way the sweetness of the figs played off the saltiness of the pecans, the creaminess of the goat cheese, the spice of the arugula, and the tang of the champagne vinaigrette, pure food bliss.
Pecan Encrusted Goat Cheese and Fig Salad
1/3 cup pecans toasted and chopped finely
pinch of salt
4 figs, quartered
2 disks of goat chèvre
3-4 cups of arugula
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinaigrette
salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy skillet toast the pecans until they are fragrant, stirring often. I use raw pecan pieces and then toast them in my cast iron skillet. I think toasting them before you use them really releases the oils and brings out the flavor. Transfer the pecans to a cutting board and chop them finely. Place the chopped pecans in a bowl with a pinch of good salt, then submerge the chèvre. Press each side so that the pecans nestle into the cheese.
I buy my chèvre from Costco, this may be local to me, I can’t say for sure. Laura Chenel Chevre, which is a Sonoma County company, sells large 16oz tubs for a very good price. My kids, well all of us really, could eat our weight in this cheese. If your Costco does not have this option, Trader Joe’s is another great outlet for chèvre. You can make your disks any size you like. If you buy the long tube of chèvre, take out your desired portions and shape them in your hand. We were generous with the portion. The salad pictured served Mr. Fabulous and myself. So we had one healthy chèvre disk apiece. If you are cutting calories or budgeting your dairy, feel free to make smaller portions. You will still get the same amazing flavor.
Before serving, warm the disks in a skillet. Flip gently with a spatula. Arrange the arugula on a plate and dress lightly. (you will have extra dressing, which will keep in the refrigerator for a week) Lay the pecan encrusted goat cheese on top and spread the figs throughout. Make sure to get a bite that has all three components. The way the flavors combine is a bit surprising, in a fabulous way.
A votre santé!