farmers’ market monday: mission fig + prosciutto salad.

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.

Adapted from a recipe on Nigella Lawson’s beautiful website; she is, and has always been, a continual source of inspiration for me.  You can find the original recipe here.

  • 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.

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  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog July 10, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I have never had a fig. Shameful. I know. I here they’re delicious. Jammy and sweet, even. Still, I have never eaten a fig in my life. I NEED

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog July 10, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Sorry, but my computer hit the submit button before I was done writing out my comment. My work computer is possessed.

    As I was saying, I NEED to change this. I NEED to eat a fig. Experience the sweet jammy filling that everyone speaks of. This salad looks beautiful, and I can’t think of a better way to eat my first fig than in a lovely salad like this one. I hope you are enjoying your vacation. Eat some ice cream for me!

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2012 at 5:17 am

      if i had a nickel…seriously. mine likes to switch my “personalities” up between my “real” self and my “blog” self, so it makes for interesting commenting, especially when someone i’m writing to doesn’t know me well enough to know the “shannon” one. 🙂
      i was in the “i’ve never” category forever with figs. i wanted them, saw recipes for them, they sounded delicious, but they’re just not around as much as they should be where i live. and when they are, i’ve completely missed whatever short season i get for when they’ll actually show up in stores. it’s heartbreaking.

      so go seek some out; since figs seem to be fickle in most parts of the country, i don’t know what it’s like up where you are in terms of how easy, but if you see them, GRAB THEM AND RUN. also, i mean…pay for them, but grab them like you mean it. 🙂 vacation is so fun! we’re on our last week, and it’s nice to have this much time to relax. as much as my thighs don’t need it, another ice cream/beach run is totally on the schedule. 🙂

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina July 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

    You’ll be so proud of me. I found a farmer’s market.

    Yes, it’s 45 minutes away, but we trekked over this past weekend and I loaded the hump.

    And I got two different kinds of figs. Brown and purple. I like brown better. They’re sweeter.

    I made figgy mustard jam and I am now swimming in fig heaven. I have more figs too. Which means I’m having this for lunch.

    I miss you!

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2012 at 5:22 am

      the level of joy i experienced from reading this comment about you finding a farmers’ market is indescribable. and yet i will try.
      YAY YAY YAY!!! i can’t believe you found one!

      and you know, i saw you talking about that figgy mustard jam on facebook within seconds of me posting the fig salad and i thought “of. course. because we are the same, and like lemons, we like the same things at the same times.” and for that, my heart hurt a little more because i am remarkably behind on emails, comments…really, it’s like i don’t exist on some level and it’s the vacation vortex. too much beautiful sky and sand and pool makes you want to not look at a glowy screen, but there are downsides. like missing good friends.

      i miss you too! let me wade both through the water and my backlog and i’m getting back into my routine. 🙂

  • Reply movita beaucoup July 10, 2012 at 11:49 am

    There is something about figs that seems so exotic. This is probably due in part to the fact that no “fancy fruit” grows in these here parts. We just don’t get that kind of heat, and our season isn’t long enough. However, we have lobster and blueberries, so all is right in the world.

    I think you should fill your face with as many figs as possible in the coming weeks. It’s only right.

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2012 at 5:29 am

      agreed! they do sound very “otherworldly,” like they’re only grown near the great pyramids or something. as if somehow they are only spawned in soil and sand laden with the memory of ancient times, the cradle of life and all that. we don’t have that sort of ‘fancy fruit’ either, although we’re central to the “american heartland” items, so peaches, apples, strawberries…all that down-home stuff you imagine grannies making pies to put in their windowsills. that’s us. so i’m lucky that way. and yes, you have lobstah and blueberries, and i daresay fresh fish in general, which i am SO ENTIRELY ENVIOUS of this time of year.

      i’m on my second box of them. if i could hoard them as squirrels hoard acorns, i would. why is it the best stuff is only in season for days a year? (sigh)

  • Reply Emma July 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I wish I had access to fresh figs here, they’re such beautiful gems. I sure overlooked their potential back when I lived in France and everyone and their brother had a fig tree (or five) in their yard. Granted, I wasn’t there during fruit-bearing season, but still.

    Love the beach scene pictures. Such a cute kidlet, and such yummy-looking ice cream!

    Blow-up raft island, huh? What a life you have;)

    • Reply shannon July 11, 2012 at 5:35 am

      emma, arguably one could say i don’t truly have access either, considering i’ll probably never see them again until next year, which i hate. Because they ARE delicious, and i’m such a fan of anything which doesn’t require a big song and dance to eat it. i daresay this salad (and i know you’ll like this) didn’t really even need the dressing due to the figgyness.

      you lived IN FRANCE?!? you lucky thing. there are not many things i would do over, but somehow managing to live in france while young and unattached (and not for dating purposes, just for selfish ones like not having to ask what anyone else wants to do) is one of them. i’ve never been, and i would love to go someday. i had no idea their fig abundance, and that makes it all the more exciting.

      taking pictures while on vacation is proving difficult right now: the wee one sometimes doesn’t like a camera in her face and doesn’t stand still much. it was a rare moment of flag delight. at least the beach doesn’t wiggle around much. 🙂 now back to my raft.

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