Over the last few weeks, I've missed out on a bit of our culinary journey with Diana Henry over at I Heart Cooking Clubs, but I felt I couldn't miss the opportunity to join in this week as we bid our fond farewells to Diana. She is definitely an inspirational cook and I have loved cooking from her culinary tomes in which I have invested - A Change of Appetite and Salt Sugar Smoke. I love a cookbook which is as much a joy to sit down and read as it is to cook from, and I have certainly found that in both of these volumes. Sitting down with one of Diana's cookbooks to have a read and find a little dinner inspiration is like sitting down with a good friend, and I know that I will continue to enjoy her company in my kitchen.
Right now my neighbour's fig tree is literally groaning under the weight of its ripening crop, and it's a constant vigil to get to the fruit at just the right time before the birds do. Must be the spectacular summer that we've had in my part of the world this year, but the fruit seems to be bigger, fatter, sweeter and juicier than ever before, and I knew that my farewell dish to Diana would have to include this much coveted autumn treat.
Inspiration came from Diana's recipe in A Change of Appetite for her salad of farro, hazelnuts, grapes and figs. I changed things up a little bit to use ingredients I had on hand, but I think the spirit of this dish remains the same. I tweaked the dressing a bit using red wine vinegar instead of white balsamic vinegar, leaving out hazelnut oil because I didn't have any, and adding in a bit of pomegranate molasses because ... well, just because. I swapped out red chicory and watercress in favour of baby kale leaves which I had on hand; I used roasted almonds instead of hazelnuts, blue cheese instead of goat cheese, and plump golden raisins instead of grapes. I also pan roasted the figs in honey before adding them to the salad.
This salad is the ultimate ode to autumn on a plate. The nutty flavour and texture of the farro is the perfect foil to the soft, sweet figs, the tangy dressing, the crunch of the almonds, and the salty hits of the blue cheese. This was easily satisfying enough for me to make a meal out of it all on its own, but would also make a great accompaniment to perhaps a roasted chicken or some great sausages.
A glass of shiraz or a great pinot on the side, and you have a meal made in heaven. I hope you'll give it a try.
Autumnal Fig, Farro & Blue Cheese Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Diana Henry
from A Change of Appetite
Serves 2 as a generous meal or 4 as a side dish
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1x cup farro
juice of 1/2 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
baby kale leaves
generous handful roasted almonds
generous handful plump golden raisins, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes
3-4 plump, fresh figs
1 tablespoon honey
50g blue cheese, crumbled
3x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1x tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Put farro in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer the farro until tender but still with a little bite - about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, drain well and add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, and season liberally with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile make the dressing. Place all ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously until everything is well combined. Taste and adjust flavourings to your taste. Set aside.
Cut figs in half. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small saute pan and add the tablespoon of honey. Add the figs to the pan, cut side down, and allow the figs to soften and warm through in the pan. Remove from pan, cool slightly, and cut each half in half again if figs are large.
Now that the farro has cooled, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the kale leaves, almonds and plumped-up raisins to the farro, and toss to combine.
Arrange farro mixture on a serving platter, nestle fig pieces into the mixture, and strew nuggets of the blue cheese over the top. Serve immediately.
If you would like to get to know Diana Henry a little better, and to see what everyone else has cooked up this week, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links (who knows, you might even want to join the journey and cook along with us) ...
... or check out A Change of Appetite and Diana's many other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, or Fishpond NZ.
And make sure to come back next week as we begin a new six month culinary journey of cooking with French chef Jacques Pepin.
I'm also sharing this at Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays, hosted by my very lovely friend Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.
You lucky, lucky thing, having a neighbouring fig tree!ReplyDelete
Yes very lucky, Alicia - and even luckier that the owners of the tree don't eat them. I only have to beat off the rest of the neighbours and the birds to get to them :-)Delete
Lucky you, Sue. The salad sounds and looks splendid with the mix of flavours.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Angie. This was my first experience of farro, and I loved the flavour and texture - it was great with all the other ingredients.Delete
Ok, so I will confess that I've never actually seen a fig tree in person. Sounds so exotic to read that you have such a prolific one right next door. You have made great use of those gorgeous figs, Sue. They are the star of this gorgeous salad for sure. As usual, I love your substitutions and would love nothing more than to enjoy one with you! Hugs to you!ReplyDelete
Oh, so fig trees don't grow in your part of the world, Kim? I'm sure it probably gets plenty warm enough there in the summer, but maybe too cold in the winter. I think seem to like fairly temperate, slightly sub-tropical areas best. They definitely are the star of this salad, and they are such gorgeous fruit. I wish you could be here to share some of them with me xoDelete
My neighbor at the place when I first moved into in Hawaii had a fig tree and my friend you to 'steal' a few when she visited me--I was too chicken. Later, I found out that he (crazy man) hated figs and was just letting them go to waste. So wrong!ReplyDelete
This salad looks amazing--it is truly Autumn on a plate. I love all of the changes you made. In fact, I loved it so much I added it to my Souper Sundays round up. Hope you don't mind. ;-)
Thanks, Deb, and thanks for including it in your Souper Sunday round-up. I planned to do that anyway and just hadn't gotten around to it yet - thanks for being one step ahead of me :-)Delete
Deb, my neighbour with the tree doesn't eat the figs either, but several of my other neighbours do though and everyone has their eye on that tree!!
Ripe fruit on a tree is magic, especially exotic ones like fig trees. The first time I saw pears laden on a tree I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.ReplyDelete
Your salad looks great, especially knowing your figs were hand picked.
Clare, you are absolutely right - the sight of a fruit tree laden with ripe fruit is a magical thing. I always think of driving around the countryside in the Greek islands and seeing wild trees groaning under the weight of apricots and figs.Delete
What a great combination salad that's really unique! I haven't cooked or baked much with Farro, but your recipe via Diana Henry inspires me to do! Newbie IHCC!ReplyDelete
Hi, Joanne, and welcome to IHCC - looking forward to cooking with you :-) Joanne, this was my first time cooking with farro - until very recently it hasn't been readily accessible here - and I really liked it. I will definitely be cooking with it again.Delete
Blue cheese! I tried once, and I believe it's an acquire taste. :DReplyDelete
Hope to cook the recipes of Jacques Pepin with you over the next six months. :)
Joyce, yes blue cheese probably is an acquired taste :-) I love it, but I know it's not to everyone's liking.Delete
Yes, I'm looking forward to getting to know Jacques Pepin too.
The salad looks fantastic and the figs, absolutely glorious! I love that you warmed them first to bring out all of their deliciousness.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Zosia. This was a great salad, and the figs were definitely the star of the show. I think this season seems to be the best crop ever.Delete
That is a gorgeous salad, Sue! So lucky that you have a neighbour with fig trees and a generous one too! My fig plant is taking forever for the fruits to ripen and it has been almost 4 months, the fruits are not showing signs of ripening yet! And the fruits are very tiny!ReplyDelete
I will definitely be seeing Diana Henry again for our potluck weeks!
That's a beautiful healthy salad. Deliciously doneReplyDelete
Pinned. Such a delicious salad. I love farro and figs.ReplyDelete
Absolutely a meal made in heaven, I am so envious of your access to a fig tree :)ReplyDelete
Yum, I have a fig tree up the road, but the birds and passers-by mostly get them.ReplyDelete