Hot Fig Salad
Makes 4 servings.
For the figs
8 ripe figs (Mission figs here, with the near-black purple skin)
4 oz blue cheese (the stinkier the better, Wikipedia can tell you all 'bout blue cheese)
1/4 lb thin sliced parma prociutto (in SF, I shop at Lucca's Ravioli Co. for Italian products)
For the rest
8 cups loosely packed baby arugula (or baby spinach, if ye be brave)
2 cups toasted walnut halves
1 T dijon mustard
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper
Ready: Pre-heat the broiler in your full-sized oven or in your toaster oven. Rinse and dry your arugula; it's a delicate green, a salad spinner does the job best.
For the figs
Prep: Cut stems off figs and slice each in half the long way. Push a finger tip gently into the middle of each fig half; this indentation will hug the cheese. Cut or crumble the blue cheese into 16 equal pieces. Cut each slice o'prociutto the long way so you wind up with 16 strips a 1/2 inch wide.
Assemble: Cram a piece of cheese into a fig half. Wrap a strip of prociutto around the cheese-stuffed-fig like a salty hammy belt. Put the fig half cheese-side up on a small tray and reapeat with the rest of the figs. If your guests arrive early, this is something they can help you with if you trust them to not nibble. Keep an eye on 'em anyway. It's hard to trust people around figs.
...Get'em hot. Put the tray of figs under the broiler for just a minute or two. You want to crisp the prociutto and melt the cheese.
...While you're broiling. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste to make a simple vinagrette. Don't use some crud from a bottle. Grab an arugula leaf and dip it in the vinagrete to taste your dressing. Adjust the ingredients as you like to suit your tongue and your arugula.
Set: Don't forget to take the figs outta the oven. Put the well-dried arugula in a large serving bowl. Right before serving, drizzle half your vinagrette - don't dump all of it at once though, overdressed salad is the most depressing thing - on the arugula and gently toss to coat; your hands are the best, gentle tools for this. If you need more dressing, put more on, a few teaspoons at a time. Wash your salady hands.
Present: Divide the arugula into four bowls. Give each bowl a fourth of the nuts. Stack the hot figs on top of the salad like boats tossed onto a beach after a storm. Crack pepper over the salad. Serve it up immediately, while the figs are still HOT.