June 23, 2010 · 17 comments

Fig & Goat’s Cheese Salad

in Salad,Vegetarian

“Train up a fig-tree in the way it should go, and when you are old sit under the shade of it.”

Charles Dickens

Figs are such a strikingly beautiful fruit, with their fresh green or deep purple skin and vibrant deep pink flesh what is there not to love?

Fresh figs always remind me of holidaying in Turkey. We stayed in Gumbet long before it became a clubbers paradise – when we visited Gumbet was still a traditional, small fishing village on the Aegean Sea.

The nearest town, Bodrum, was by contrast a hive of activity with regular bustling markets selling everything from livestock, to fruit and vegetables, to herbs and spices, right through to clothing and household items. Cafes and restaurants lined the seemingly ever sunny sea front, but, for the best food we headed further into the centre of Bodrum, to small family run places dotted throughout the narrow side streets, many shaded by fig trees and palms.

I certainly made the most of having the luscious figs at my fingertips throughout the stay, eating them at every available opportunity whether just as a healthy snack or as part of a meal. There is little better than the fig tree’s produce when it is fresh and still warm from the sun.

Even during my young teenage years I appreciated the beautiful scenery, culture and above all the food! It was probably that holiday that sparked my long lasting love of Middle Eastern influenced food.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

Anyhow that is enough about me and my holidays. Back to the figs.

Figs can be traced in history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. It is also claimed that Plato told the Greek athletes to eat lots of figs to aid their performance. Figs were revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit, according to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree.

Figs were later introduced to other regions of the Mediterranean by ancient conquerors and then brought to the Western Hemisphere by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. In the late 19th century, when Spanish missionaries established the mission in San Diego, California, they also planted fig trees. These figs turned out to be inferior in quality to those that were imported from Europe, and it wasn’t until the development of further cultivation techniques in the early 20th century that California began focused cultivation and processing of figs. Today, California remains one of the largest producers of figs in addition to Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Fresh figs are very delicate and tend to deteriorate quickly. When choosing fresh figs, select those which are plump and tender, have a rich, deep colour, are free from bruises and are not mushy. Even the best quality figs will only last a couple of days in the fridge after purchasing.

Figs are high in natural and simple sugars, minerals and fibre. They contain good levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Dried figs contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g, compared to whole milk with only 118mg.

Figs and goats cheese is a combination to die for. Fresh sweet figs against the salty cheese is amazing, add in a sweet olive oil and honey dressing with a few mixed leaves and you are heading towards salad perfection. Only the addition of some prosciutto could possibly improve this.

Although the figs were imported from Turkey, everything else was pretty locally sourced – honey from Norfolk, goat’s cheese from the UK although no more information was provided (as a side note the So Organic cheese from Sainsbury’s was surprisingly good) and salad leaves from my garden. The olive oil came from Spain via last years Ludlow Food Festival; I hope to go again this year and would suggest any foodies who have the chance to make the journey too.

Fig & Goat’s Cheese Salad

(Serves 1)

  • 2 figs cut into quarters
  • 50g (or to taste) of soft, crumbly goats cheese
  • Cucumber (approx. 5cm piece) diced
  • Salad leaves of your preference although it is good to have some peppery leaves such as rocket or watercress (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Make the dressing. In a small bowl mix the honey with the boiling water to allow it to dissolve slightly and become more liquid. Very slowly add the olive oil, mixing well, to allow the liquids to amalgamate.
  2. Combine the salad ingredients in a serving dish and drizzle over the dressing, mix gently to ensure the dressing is dispersed throughout the whole salad.
  3. Serve with some crusty bread or pittas.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ollie June 23, 2010 at 14:36

Looks lovely. Beautifully summery.
Ollie´s last blog post ..Boiled leg of lamb with caper sauce [Recipe]


George@CulinaryTravels June 23, 2010 at 15:13

Thank you Ollie.


Kat June 24, 2010 at 02:02

I never thought of putting figs in a salad before. I’ve only ever baked them and served with yogurt and slivered pistachios. Looks gorgeous, I will try it.


George@CulinaryTravels June 29, 2010 at 11:02

Kat I love baked figs too, pistachios and figs are a great combination – again salty & sweet.


olean June 24, 2010 at 05:02

I cannot wait to put this salad together…. Our local
Italian market has FRESH figs, (here in Pa. that is a rareity.)
so, this salad will be on our table this weekend…
Thank You for all the
wonderful ideas, and recipes.


George@CulinaryTravels June 24, 2010 at 09:35

Olean I hope you will enjoy the salad. Please do let me know what you think of it. So pleased to hear you like my blog.


Grannymar June 24, 2010 at 07:51

I love fresh figs, they remind me of holidays in Portugal. I think I could enjoy this one by reducing the amount of cheese!
Grannymar´s last blog post ..PPM –Week 1


George@CulinaryTravels June 24, 2010 at 09:36

Grannymar you could reduce the amount of cheese significantly with no detrimental effect, another idea would be to just use a few slivers of parmesan or pecorrino instead.


Nadia June 24, 2010 at 09:02

Oh I love figs, they remind me of summers in the Med as a child :)


George@CulinaryTravels June 29, 2010 at 11:03

Oh how lovely.


Jessica June 24, 2010 at 16:52

Lovely post! I’ve never eaten fresh figs straight from the tree, only dried.


George@CulinaryTravels June 25, 2010 at 10:17

Dried figs are lovely too Jessica but if you get the chance do try a fresh fig.


Sarah, Maison Cupcake June 26, 2010 at 11:16

I adore fig trees… I would love one in the middle of my garden if it were big enough. A boutique-y gift shop close to me opens its garden in summer and has a fig tree in the middle. I asked the owner how old it was and she said it was only planted five years earlier so they do go really mad if you let them.

I have happy memories of sitting under one in the yard of a St Tropez hotel listening to them bouncing off the ground with a thud all around me whilst eating breakfast!
Sarah, Maison Cupcake´s last blog post ..Dinner without Crayons: Skipper, St Martin de Ré, France


George@CulinaryTravels June 26, 2010 at 11:25

Sarah that sounds like one of the most blissful ways to have breakfast.

I’ve just ordered a fig tree for my garden :)


baobabs June 27, 2010 at 02:23

i’m just having st maure with some artisanal fig jam with crackers for breakfast as I read this. I absolutely love fig with cheese! Great blog with stunning photos and information. Thanks for sharing. :)


George@CulinaryTravels June 29, 2010 at 11:05

Thank you Baobabs! I’m so pleased you enjoy my blog. Fig jam is lovely, but I never make it; I always feel it is a waste of such a luscious fruit.


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