Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fig, Pear & Goat Cheese over Mixed Greens

Sorry for my extended absence, everyone. With the high holidays (over which I did plenty of cooking but very little documenting), and a rush of huge assignments at work, September was largely a month of leftovers, take-out and cold cuts. I know, not very epicurean of me, but it happens to all of us! 

Anyway, this is a great "fancy" salad which actually doesn't take too long to put together. It's a good company salad because of presentation, but definitely has to be prepared immediately before you serve it, so it's a bit difficult to make if you're trying to hostess at the same time. The flavors/temperatures/textures are VERY interesting and I had a great time with this one. It's definitely on the repeat list!

Total Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Cook Time: 10 minutes

What you will need:

For the dressing:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp white sugar (not pictured since I keep it in a gigantic black kitchen cylinder)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the salad:
1 package fresh mixed greens (arugula would be another nice variation for a bit more of a peppery taste)
1 pear (anjou or bartlett, whatever is on sale or riper)
5-6 fresh brown turkish figs
2 tbsp honey bourbon
crumbled goat cheese

First things first, if you have time, you should stick your salad plates in the freezer or refrigerator to chill them. It's a nice touch when you serve this salad since there are some warm elements.

Secondly, make your dressing and stick it in the refrigerator. You can make the dressing ahead of time by even a few days if you need to. Simply combine all ingredients in a tiny little tupperware, shake vigorously, taste, modify with seasoning if necessary, and set aside.

When you're ready to make the salad, the first thing you will want to do is slice all of your fruit. Slice the pear into thin wedges, and slice the figs in half.

If any of the figs have a dried out crusty middle, don't use those. They will have a bitter taste which will ruin the salad.

Next, pour your greens into a big bowl and then toss well with the dressing.

Put the salad back in the fridge while you cook your fruit. 

Put a medium saute skillet (no bigger than 10 inches) on a medium high to high heat (if you're using non-stick, do not heat higher than medium high). Once the skillet is hot, pour in the honey bourbon, which should start steaming and cooking immediately. If you don't have any bourbon and don't feel like investing, then you can substitute white balsamic.

Let the bourbon/vingear heat for approximately thirty seconds, then put your pear slices in the skillet. Cook them for about 30 seconds on each side, just long enough to warm them and soften them a bit. Remove from the skillet using a slotted spoon or spatula and put on a plate. Place the figs, cut side down, in the pan. Let them cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, testing at 30 seconds to determine whether the cut side has caramelized slightly. When this happens, there will be a nice sugary brown crust on the face of the fig. I'll admit, this takes a little bit of practice, so you may want to test a few figs to determine how long it will take before you actually do this for company (or anyone you want to impress). Remove from pan when they are caramelized.

Plate your salad by placing some of the tossed greens on each plate, then sprinkling with goat cheese. Distribute your fruit on top of the goat cheese and serve immediately. 


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