Fig and Prosciutto Salad

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For someone who, not long ago, would gag at the suggestion of a salad for dinner, it’s slightly unsettling that this has been the Summer of Salads. In just a few short months, I’ve brought you a tuscan kale salad, a cucumber caprese salad, and a watermelon mint steak salad. And just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more salads up my sleeve? I bring you this: a blue-cheese-stuffed and prosciutto-wrapped fig salad. If you think that sounds pretty fancy for a salad, it is. But whoever said salads had to be boring?

I’d been on the lookout for figs at the farmer’s market for months now. I remember one time in May, I thought I’d seen figs in the Central Market flyer, so I went determinedly to go find some. After painstakingly browsing each fruit bin, Mr. Little Fish decided to just ask a worker where we could find them. “See those bins with the bananas? Right next to them.”  Yes! I thought, as I quickly shuffled between the crowd to get to them. Alas, upon arrival, only lowly dates sat in their place. Of course, when we went to ask again, employee-man said he thought we’d said dates, but figs, well, they didn’t have any. Sigh.

So, I waited, drooling over the fig pictures that kept popping up on my instagram. I had never even tried fresh figs before, only dried, but I had convinced myself they would be my new favorite thing. So, I went to the farmer’s market every weekend, crossing my fingers that this would be the time. Once, I happened across Confituras (find them on instagram!), a local small-batch jam maker, at the farmer’s market and bought some of her sugar fig jam, which was so good that I temporarily forgot about The Search for Figs.

But then, one Saturday, my friend M realized that she had weekends to herself again, so we decided to celebrate. I suggested going to the lobster roll truck at the farmer’s market, because when else is a great time to buy a $16 sandwich than when you’re feeling celebratory? So, off we went, with butter lobster rolls on our minds, and all thoughts of figs forgotten. But lo and behold, at the tiniest table in the whole market: baskets and baskets of fresh figs. Despite the odd looks I was getting from my friend M, I couldn’t contain my joy. I strolled right up to the vendor, said “that one!” while assertively pointing at the cute container on the corner, and handed over the cash. I was a woman on a mission. Feeling giddy with accomplishment, I asked the vendor was his favorite way to eat the figs was, and he suggested wrapping them in prosciutto and grilling them. PURE GOLD, I thought.

The idea went even further when, two stalls down, I happened across my favorite goat-cheese maker, CKC Farms. The enabler than I am, I convinced my friend M to try their plain goat cheese while I sampled there baby blue. Although I’m not typically a fan of blue cheese, I loved this one! It was very silky and smooth and had that lovely creaminess that goat cheese has. Remembering my plan for the figs, I declared that before wrapping them in prosciutto, I would first stuff them with this cheese. Meanwhile, my friend M shot darts at me with her eyes as she handed over the cash for the goat cheese she couldn’t stop herself from buying. =)

Thus, this salad was born on a weeknight after work two nights later. I paired it simply with a bed of arugula, some walnuts sprinkled over the top, and with a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can add whatever you’d like to it. You could even go fancier by reducing the balsamic vinegar with some honey until it’s a lovely, sweet syrup.  If you’re not a fan of blue cheese, this would work just as well stuffed with regular old goat cheese or, if you’re dairy-free, no cheese at all. Also, I ate this as a meal itself, but it would definitely make a great side for a steak on a date night (you’re welcome. 😉 !

Fig and Prosciutto Salad
Serves 2

IMG_7881Ingredients:

1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
3 oz prosciutto
1 small package baby blue goat cheese
4 cups baby arugula
1-2 tbsps walnuts
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling

Directions:

1.  Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don’t wanna squish them too much.
IMG_78852.  Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
IMG_78873.  Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
IMG_78884. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you’ll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
IMG_78905. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!
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Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Salad
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pint fresh figs, gently washed and dried
  • 3 oz prosciutto
  • 1 small package baby blue goat cheese
  • 4 cups baby arugula
  • 1-2 tbsps walnuts
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp bacon fat or butter, for grilling
Directions
  1. Using a sharp knife, delicately cut each of the figs in half. If they are very ripe, they will be a little mushy and you don't wanna squish them too much.
  2. Use a spoon to put a tiny bit of blue cheese in the center of each fig half. The amount should be proportional to the size of the fig and to your own personal preference.
  3. Then, since my figs were quite small, I tore each piece of prosciutto into threes and carefully wrapped each third around one fig half. Make sure to wrap it fairly tightly so that the fig stays in the prosciutto when frying.
  4. Heat a large cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the fat. Once the fat is melted and/or started to lightly smoke, use tongs to place each fig half in a circle lining the outside of the pan and work clockwise until you get to the center. This will help you remember which figs hit the heat first, so you'll follow the same pattern when it comes time to flip. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Use tongs to flip each fig over, and allow to sit another 2-3 minutes, until desired brownness. Remove from plate and turn off the heat.
  5. On a separate plate, put down about 2 cups of the arugula. Top with 4-5 figs, a tablespoon of walnuts, and more blue cheese crumbles, and drizzle about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over it. Enjoy!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute

Those of you who follow me on instagram (if you don’t, you should! Check out the pictures on the sidebar to see why! @gwensfishfood) might already have been indirectly introduced to my latest obsession:

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It was Hatch Chili Fest at HEB last week, and I happened to go grocery shopping on the first day of it (totally just on accident, yup), which meant:

X ALL THE THINGS - Sample All of the things!

They had Hatch chili bread, hatch chili enchilada sauce, hatch chili salmon, hatch chili guacamole….seriously you name it, they had it. My favorites were these hatch chili and cheese sausages and, of course, this jalapeno hatch chili jam. At the store, it was served on top of cream cheese for a dip (yum!), and also served as a topping for the sausage. (Unexpected bonus: the sample ladies were feeling extra generous, so I got nearly an entire sausage as a “sample” and a whole quarter of a turkey burger.)

So, naturally, I bought both the sausage and the jam (and this hatch bean dip that was ah-mazing). I still had a bunch of kale leftover from making this kale salad on repeat for about 2 weeks, so the next morning, before work no less, when I realized I didn’t have leftovers for lunch (see: eating too many samples and not being hungry for dinner the night before), I threw together a quick sort-of stir fry. The kale worked out perfectly because it was able to withstand the heat of the sautéed sausage and onion and was just perfectly wilted by the time I ate lunch. But, since then, I’ve thrown this same stir fry on spinach and arugula and both were delicious. And, like any stir fry, you can mix and match the veggies to suit whatever you have on hand! If I add other veggies, I usually saute the onion for a little while by itself, and then I’ve thrown in things like broccoli and mushrooms for extra flavor. The nice thing about this is that, once you add the hatch jam, the sugar in it helps everything caramelize. The other nice thing is that it takes all of 10 minutes! Happy hatch season to you!

Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
Serves 1
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Ingredients:

1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
1/2 tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms

Directions:

1.  In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
IMG_78142.  Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn’t stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
IMG_78173. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
IMG_78194. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!
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Hatch Chili Sausage Saute
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 hatch chili and cheese sausage link (or any other sausage), sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups chopped kale, thick stems removed, or other leafy green
  • 1 tbsp Jalapeno Hatch Chili jam
  • ½ tbsp fat, such as butter or coconut oil, for sauteing
  • Optional: other veggies for you stir fry, e.g. broccoli or mushrooms
Directions
  1. In a large skillet, melt your fat over medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced onions to the pan, and cook for about 3-5 minutes until softened. Make sure to push it around with your spatula so it doesn't stick to the bottom. NOTE: if you plan on adding other veggies, here is where you would add them.
  2. Add the sliced sausage to the pan, and again push it around so it doesn't stick (think stir-fry technique). Cook until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the tablespoon of hatch jam, and stir well to coat the veggies and sausage.
  4. Put the kale in a bowl or large plate, as a bed. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture over the kale. Allow to sit for a couple minutes so the kale wilts, and then serve!

Pork Chop and Apples

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This weekend was such a tease in Austin.  On Saturday, we had the most beautiful day in a long time.  It was hot enough that if I was outside all day, I probably would’ve gotten a (second) sunburn for the season already.  So, like a good kinda-sorta-Ginger, I stayed out of the sun by watching Captain America in Imax 3d, but then made Mr. Little Fish take me to dinner somewhere, anywhere, with a patio.  Luckily, our favorite neighborhood pizza place is pretty much nothing but a patio, so we spent the evening after the movie enjoying the sun.

But, then, Sunday and Monday came along, and it was rainy and gloomy and kinda chilly again, and today is straight up cold. What’s up with that, Austin?  Winter is (not supposed to be) Coming. I had planned all weekend to make a light, sunny ceviche, and I did (and it was delicious), but I ate it grumpily because my food does not match the weather outside right now (and apparently cooking makes me do things like pay attention to the seasons!).

What does sort of match this weather is this stove-top pork chop with apples dish. Really, it’s a fall dish. Apples are in full season then, and it’s comfort-food-like with a side of mashed potatoes or cauliflower.  But, what I think is great is that this could easily be transformed into a summer dish.  Grilled pork chop and apples anyone? Pork chops are kind of made for the grill, and there are few fruits that don’t benefit from dat charcoal-caramelization.  Unfortunately, I don’t have easy access to a grill, so I’ve forced this recipe indoors, but I would love to hear if anyone decides to try an outdoor variation of it (just through the apple and onions on some foil and throw on grill!)!

Pork Chop and Apples
Serves 3

Ingredients:

3 boneless pork chops
1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 apples (I use one Granny Smith and one Gala for sweetness), cored and sliced
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and put a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet inside to preheat with it.  Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, and then, brush the chops lightly with coconut oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside until the oven is done heating.
IMG_69782. Remove the skillet from the preheated oven, and place on the stove top over medium high heat.  After a few minutes, lay the pork chops in the skillet, and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, until the sides are golden brown (NOTE: you may want to turn on your oven vent or open a window, as this produces some smoke!). Remove the pork chops to a plate after they achieve the golden color (don’t worry if they are not cooked; they will cook through in the oven).
IMG_69803. Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan, and add the diced onions, sauteing until they start to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
IMG_69814.  While the onions cook, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.  When the onions are soft, add this mixture to the pan, along with the sliced apples.  Cook until apples start to soften, about 5 minutes.
IMG_69845. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and spoon the apples and onions mixture over the top of them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork chops reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the chops.
IMG_69856.  Remove from oven, and serve the chops with the apples and onions spooned over, and with a side of brussel sprouts to mashed potatoes!
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Pork Chop and Apples
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3 boneless pork chops
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tbsp brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 apples (I use one Granny Smith and one Gala for sweetness), cored and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and put a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet inside to preheat with it.  Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, and then, brush the chops lightly with coconut oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside until the oven is done heating.
  2. Remove the skillet from the preheated oven, and place on the stove top over medium high heat.  After a few minutes, lay the pork chops in the skillet, and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, until the sides are golden brown (NOTE: you may want to turn on your oven vent or open a window, as this produces some smoke!). Remove the pork chops to a plate after they achieve the golden color (don't worry if they are not cooked; they will cook through in the oven).
  3. Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan, and add the diced onions, sauteing until they start to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. While the onions cook, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.  When the onions are soft, add this mixture to the pan, along with the sliced apples.  Cook until apples start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and spoon the apples and onions mixture over the top of them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork chops reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the chops.
  6. Remove from oven, and serve the chops with the apples and onions spooned over, and with a side of brussel sprouts to mashed potatoes!