Roasted Figs with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Rosemary


Certain food combinations are not meant to be messed with – and this is a classic example: Plump seductive figs, salty supple prosciutto, and fresh creamy goat cheese are a holy triumvirate. Teamed up with rosemary (does that make it a quadrumvirate?) and roasted in the oven until crispy, bubbling, and luscious, you have a sensational appetizer – period; forget the Latin lesson.

Roasted Figs with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese (and Rosemary)

The rosemary sprigs do double duty as a toothpick and aromatic, infusing the cheese and figs with woodsy aroma while they bake in the oven. The trick is to discard the roasted sprigs and replace them with fresh leaves as a decorative garnish for serving.

Makes 16

8 ripe figs
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 (3/4-inch) rosemary sprigs with stem
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh rosemary leaves
Runny honey
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Heat the oven to 375°F. Cut each fig in half lengthwise and place on a work surface, skin side down. Gently make a small indentation in each center with a teaspoon. Mix the goat cheese and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Fill the indentation with goat cheese. Wrap a prosciutto slice, cross-wise, around the fig, like a belt. Spear a rosemary sprig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place. Repeat with remaining fig halves.

Place the figs in a baking dish and lightly brush the prosciutto strips with olive oil. Bake in the oven until the prosciutto begins to crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove and transfer the figs to a platter. Gently remove and discard the baked rosemary sprigs; fill the incision with a few fresh rosemary leaves. Lightly drizzle the figs with honey and garnish with lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Marinated Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

Beets Bunch TasteFood

I am a converted beet lover. It took a good long time for me to reconcile with their earthy taste. I gazed at beets from the sidelines, attracted to their vibrant magenta and ochre hues, aware of their nutrient-rich flesh, yet I shuddered at their earthy flavor. As a cook, I wanted to love them. As a parent, I wanted to serve them. So, I willed myself to eat beets until I learned to appreciate them.

At first, I took baby steps. I nibbled small bites. I  dressed them with citrus which tamed their earthiness. I grew bolder and roasted beets in olive oil, discovering that fire and char nicely balanced their robust flavor. My go-to beet became the golden variety, which is pleasantly mild and nuttier than its assertive red cousin. And, eventually, I succeeded. Now, I am a card carrying beet lover, frequently offering them at our dinner table. I serve them roasted with meats, sauteed and tumbled with farro, gratineed or in salads.

Beet Goat Cheese Salad TasteFood

This recipe is one of my family’s favorites. The beets marinate in their roasting oil with lemon juice, which is also used to dress the salad.

Marinated Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
Serves 4 to 6

1 1/2 pounds red or yellow beets
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
6 cups arugula or mixed baby greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup fresh crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut in chiffonade
1/4 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Place beets in a baking dish. Pour oil over the beets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover dish tightly with foil. Roast the beets until tender, about 1 hour. Remove beets from baking dish and transfer to a plate to cool. Pour cooking oil into a small bowl and reserve.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin. Cut the beets in 1-inch chunks and place in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and vinegar to the reserved oil. Whisk to combine and taste for seasoning. Pour dressing over the beets and gently toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate beets for at least 2 hours or overnight.

To serve, place the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle some of the marinade over the arugula and toss to combine. Divide among serving plates. Spoon beets into center of the greens. Sprinkle with goat cheese, pistachios, mint and chives. Drizzle with additional dressing to taste.

Autumn Salads: Spinach with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, Walnuts and Crispy Prosciutto

Spinach, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, Walnuts, Cranberries, Orange Vinaigrette

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we can’t have a salad. In fact, when the temperature drops, it’s even more important to eat vitamin and nutrient-rich vegetables. We might be craving stews and braises in the warmth of the kitchen, yet there is still a place for a salad on the menu. Fall salads are more robust than their summer counterparts. What they might lack for in heat, they make up in substance. Sturdy earthy greens, such as spinach, chicories, kale or radicchio, move into the salad bowl. Nuts and seeds add nutrients and heft. Dried fruit or seasonal pears, apples, persimmons and pomegranates add sweetness and color. Dressings become more rich and intense, with mustard, aged balsamic vinegar and garlic. Cheese and salume crown the salad, bringing a satisfying umami quality, as well as salt and extra protein. The variations are numerous, but you can be sure the results will be delicious and perfectly in season.

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Walnuts and Crispy Prosciutto

Serves 2 to 4.

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 small garlic clove,  minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
2 ounces prosciutto
8 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Make the vinaigrette:
Whisk all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Taste for seasoning.

Prepare the salad:
Heat oven to 350 F. Arrange the prosciutto in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in oven until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Break in to shards.
Place the spinach, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Toss to combine. Add more dressing to desired taste and toss again. Arrange on serving plates. Crumble the goat cheese over the spinach, then scatter the prosciutto shards over the salad. Sprinkle with orange zest.

If you like this, you might enjoy these hearty salads:
Roasted Beets with Feta, Mint and Pistachios
Kale and Quinoa Salad
Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese

Legends of Europe: Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

My mission (should I choose to accept it):  To create an original recipe using Prosciutto di San Daniele from Legends from Europe. Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe: Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reffiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio.

As luck would have it, these 5 products happen to be some of my favorites. The biggest challenge I faced was not in accepting this mission but deciding which product to feature. Fortunately, the folks at Legends helped me with my choice and assigned me the Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is named for the region of San Daniele in northeastern Italy where it enjoys a unique micro-climate nestled between the Dolomite Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The ham is left to slow-cure naturally, following a 2,000 year-old tradition introduced by the Celts. Today, Prosciutto di San Daniele is considered a delicacy  with its mild flavor and delicate texture. This week, I will be posting a few recipes I’ve created with Legends’ Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

A small rosemary sprig does double duty as a toothpick and aromatic, infusing the figs and goat cheese with its flavor as they bake in the oven. Makes 16 hors-d’oeuvres

8 ripe figs
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices “Legends from Europe” Prosciutto di San Daniele, halved lengthwise
16 3/4-inch rosemary sprigs with stem, plus 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. Halve figs lengthwise. Place figs on a work surface, skin side down. Gently make a small indentation in each center with a teaspoon. Mix goat cheese and pepper together in a small bowl. Fill the indentation with goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon. Wrap a prosciutto slice, cross-wise, around fig. Spear a rosemary sprig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place. Repeat with remaining fig halves. Place figs in a baking dish. Lightly brush prosciutto with olive oil. Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer figs to a platter. Remove baked rosemary sprigs and discard (they will be brown). Replace with a few fresh rosemary leaves, without stem. Lightly drizzle figs with honey. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve warm.

Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese

Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese


~ Yellow Beets, Wheat Berries, Goat Cheese, Chervil, Winter Greens ~

I used to hate beets. Now I can’t get enough of them. Perhaps I am scrambling to make up for all of those lost beet-eating years when I shuddered at the thought of tasting the earthy beet. Now that I am a covert, I always have a bunch of beets in my refrigerator, ready to accompany a roasting chicken or stir into a couscous or rice pilaf. Beets’ murky sweetness also adds a fresh foil to grains and salads, working especially well when matched with other strong flavors like bitter greens or tangy citrus. In this recipe they team up with healthy wheat berries and a mix of peppery, sharp greens. A shower of chervil adds a complementary anise note to this wintry salad.

Mixed Greens and Beet Salad with Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese

Don’t discard the pan juices from the roasted beets in olive oil. Once cool it makes a lovely dressing for the beets. Serves 4.

4 medium golden (or red) beets, about 1 pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt
6 cups mixed greens, such as arugula, chicory, mizuna, red oak lettuce
1/3 cup cooked wheat berries (or farro)
1/2 cup fresh chervil sprigs
3 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
1/2 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

Roast the beets:
Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim ends of beets and scrub clean; throughly dry. Place beets in an oven-proof rimmed pan or pot with a lid. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Cover pot with lid or aluminum foil. Bake until beets are tender but not too soft, 50 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from oven. Transfer beets to a cutting board and cool. Reserve cooking liquid in pot. When beets are cool enough to handle, peel away skins. Slice 1/4 inch thick and place in a bowl. Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt into reserved beet juice. Drizzle the beet juice over the beets and gently toss to coat.

Assemble salad:
Arrange greens on a serving plate. Sprinkle wheat berries over the greens and arrange beets over the salad. Scatter with chervil and sprinkle goat cheese over the salad. Drizzle any remaining beet juice over the greens. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over the salad, to taste. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

~ Baked Stuffed Figs with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Honey ~

Food is like fashion. There are some trends that flash then fizzle, while there are classics that withstand the passage of time – just like a little black dress. The combination of figs, goat cheese and prosciutto falls in the little black dress category. Each ingredient is a specialty hailing from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, reflecting locally grown and raised food with a history spanning the ages. And they taste great together. No fancy accoutrements are needed – this is the stuff of slow food.  Whether you call it timeless or simply delicious, the common denominator is it strikes a primal chord in all of us, bringing us back for more.

This recipe showcases the ancient fig, one of the first plants cultivated by humans.  Figs are high in calcium, fiber, potassium and contain many antioxidants.  Luscious and honeyed, they are delicate in flavor.  Their subtle sweetness is an elegant addition to savory dishes such as pizzas and salads, while their mildness adds refinement to desserts, never tipping the sugar point.  Classic, understated and refined – all of the makings of timeless food and good fashion.

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Fresh rosemary sprigs serve as toothpicks in assembling the figs while infusing flavor during the baking. Makes 12 hors-d’ouevres, or serves 6 as a salad course.

12 figs, ripe but not too soft
6 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in half length-wise
4 large rosemary sprigs, cut in thirds, plus extra for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)

Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit.  Gently separate the quarters to create an opening.  Scoop 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese into the opening, without overstuffing.  Wrap each fig with prosciutto slice.  Pierce the prosciutto and fig with a rosemary skewer to hold in place. Arrange figs in a baking pan. Gently brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (the prosciutto will also add salt). Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crispen and cheese is tinged brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Carefully remove and discard baked rosemary sprigs. Arrange figs on serving platter or individual plates with fresh arugula (optional).  Drizzle each fig with honey.  Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Serve immediately.

Ratatouille Gratin

~ Ratatouille Gratin ~

It’s that time of year when the vegetables sneak up on you. A month ago, summer squash were elusive, appearing in the markets in small groups at a price. In the garden they were merely a hint of themselves peeking from their flowers. Purchases felt premature, tasting a little bitter, and costing too much for something you knew would soon be prolific.

~
Then, before you know it, a month has passed and squash are teeming everywhere. The garden is lobbing them to you like tennis balls, the market shelves are stacked with zucchini, crooknecks, and patty pans, ripe and ready for consumption. With the bounty, it’s time to get creative, because, ironically, it’s easy to tire of this abundance, and that is a shame.  So, yesterday I was determined to use my imagination to celebrate summer squash. Instead of a traditional ratatouille, I made a gratin. And before I made the gratin, I played a little bit with my food and made Ratatouille Stacks.

~ Ratatouille Stacks ~

The ingredients are identical, only the arrangement is different. Serve the gratins as side dishes or a light vegetarian meal. The stacks are fun appetizers.

Ratatouille Gratin with Goat Cheese and Basil

Try to choose squash and eggplant of a similar diameter. This recipe makes enough for an 8 to 9-inch square or round pan. Alternatively, you can arrange the vegetables in smaller individual gratin dishes.

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

1 narrow eggplant, about 10 ounces
1 medium zucchini, about 6 ounces
1 medium yellow squash, about 6 ounces
1 large red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces, plus extra for garnish
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven broiler.
2. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash crosswise about 1/3 inch thick. (If the eggplant is much wider than the squash, quarter lengthwise and slice 1/3 inch thick.)
3. Arrange the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and peppers in one layer on an oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with additional oil and lightly season with salt and black pepper. Broil on the top shelf of the oven until the vegetables are tender, but not mushy, and brown in spots, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once. Remove and cool to the touch.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8 or 9-inch square or round gratin dish. Arrange the vegetables, alternating and slightly overlapping, in rows or a circular pattern. Tuck the basil between the vegetables in a random pattern so that it is evenly distributed. Scatter grape-size amounts of the goat cheese evenly over the vegetables.
5. Bake the gratin in the oven until the cheese is soft and light golden in spots, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with extra basil if desired.