Well, I’ve done it: I’ve succumbed to vacation and all its pitfalls. Like not knowing what day it is. Because who cares what day it is when you’re on vacation? You do what you want, when you want. There is no schedule to stick to, no routine to go with, no calendars or watches to check. It’s almost impossible to check a calendar or watch anyway when you’re face-first in a Neil Gaiman book atop a blow-up raft island, anyway. Remembering what day it is when you’re 2 weeks into vacation is tremendously difficult; thankfully, this salad is not.
I’ve been waiting most of the spring and summer to make this salad. And I had no choice but to wait, as mission figs aren’t in season until July. As I don’t live in California, they show up in our markets mid-summer, and by the time I decide what I want to do with them, they’re gone. Disappeared the way good, juicy pears vanish after like, a day or two of being perfectly ripe in the early fall.
But not this year; this year, I crafted a plan. Set a trap. Lay in wait for these short-seasoned orbs to show up in my market. I had a recipe ready for them when they did.
And then I went on vacation. And they showed up here to tag along.
I had no idea this mission fig salad would demand to be made while I spent large amounts of time musing about the new growth on palm trees and eating copious amounts of ice cream, but it did. I was thrilled. It’s nice when you can share a recipe you’ve been craving with your loved ones, because they’re not always around to rejoice over fresh figs with you. This time, they were. So today, I revert back to Farmers’ Market Monday (Tuesday, I know, I know) to give you a Nigella Lawson masterpiece of a salad so beautiful and so simple, you should feel compelled to make it. Just because figs are here and waiting to be included in your daily life, if only for a few days. Think of it as your own little vacation.
As gorgeous as it is, this salad takes maybe 10 minutes to put together. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette, and rightly so, as these ingredients need nothing but a swath of oil and vinegar to bring it together. Nigella’s recipe calls for Serrano ham, but finding none in a sleepy beachside town, I went with prosciutto instead. Because of my ham substitution, I subbed in a good parmesan for the cheese, which was originally manchego. If figs are still available for me in a week or so when I’m home, I’ll try this again with the Serrano and the manchego, because I love the combination of the two, and it’s good to know what recipes are like in their original format.
So here it is: my ode to figs. Certainly fresh mission figs don’t need this beautiful salad, but it’s a great midsummer salad to have in your pocket for when they show up at your door. Especially when you are…
sitting by the seashore
watching sailboats come in for the evening
with your favorite tiny human
eating cake batter ice cream from a waffle cup.
Enjoy this salad while I get back to my inflatable raft island. Because I’m (still) on vacation.
- 1 head treviso or radicchio
- 7 ounces red or green leaf lettuce
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, for seasoning vinaigrette and for serving
- 10-12 fresh mission figs, quartered
- 8 ounces prosciutto slices, cut very thinly
- 2-3 ounces good parmesan cheese
Tear the head of treviso/radicchio and the green or red leaf lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces and toss together in a large bowl.
Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Toss together with the leaves, making sure they are evenly coated. Divide evenly on to 3-4 salad plates.
Arrange the figs and ham over the leaves of each plate. Shave the parmesan over the top using a vegetable peeler. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.