Summer is still in full swing in the Cape Winelands. You could even say summer is already over her peak and in a little while from now the leaves will turn brown, orange and yellow, and autumn will be here. But first let’s enjoy the last month(s) of this beautiful summer and what’s a better way to celebrate this than with fresh figs? Fig season is absolutely right now, and the Cape Winelands trees are full of these soft and chewy summer fruits. Figs are first of all delicious, but also extremely healthy, as they are full of natural sugars, minerals, vitamins A, E and K, antioxidants and soluble fibre. So don’t feel sorry if you can’t stop eating them!
Some people have a fig-tree in their garden and if not you can buy them now in most of the fresh shops and supermarkets, or at the weekend markets I absolutely love. Last week The Mister & I bought a box of figs at our local Saturday morning village market, and we made this delicious and simple dish with it. Perfect as a starter for a friends dinner party, but also suitable (add some salad leaves) for light summer main course.
Serves: starter for 4 people (or main/lunch dish for 2)
4 big figs or 12 smaller ones
100-150 gram Parmaham (or other Italian ham)
1 ball(s) of buffalo mozzarella or several bocconcini’s (good quality, no ‘gummi’), or use fresh goat’s cheese
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
pepper and salt
Optional: salad leaves such as rucola, little gems, or mixed leaf
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
2. Cut the figs from the top crosswise, almost to the bottom. I used small figs but it would be easier to have one big fig per person, for starter portions. Open up the fig a bit with your fingers, and fill the hearts of the figs with pieces of mozzarella. You can cut a ball of mozzarella in pieces, or use the smaller ‘cherry-version’ of mozzarella, called bocconcini.
3. Horizontally wrap around a slice of the Italian ham at the bottom of the fig, so you still can see the cheese and the open fig.
4. Place on a baking sheet in the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is soft and Parmaham slightly crispy.
5. Make a simple vinaigrette of the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, peper and salt. Place the fig(s) on a starter plate and drizzle some of the vinaigrette over. Bon Appétit!
Variation tip: Serve the figs with some salad leaves as rucola, little gems or mixed leaf, like on the photo below
Variation tip – next day treat
Of course (ripe) figs are perfect too to eat cold, pure as they are. So if you have some left the day after, just serve with some raw Parmaham, some Ciabatta or Baguette. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil over it, some sea salt to taste. Mmmmm… I can get used to these summer lunches!