These addictive fig bites from Fat Rice chef Abraham Conlon are very simple, so it’s crucial to use the best ingredients, from true Spanish ham to ripe, juicy figs, crunchy marcona almonds (a fave of mine) and best-quality olive oil.
Unable to source jamón ibérico or serrano, we had to resort to prosciutto. And the original recipe indicated a whole almond should be place on top as a finish. But we decided that was not practical. How would the nut stay adhered to the piece? Instead, we placed the almond on top of the goat cheese, then wrapped each piece in a slice of the prosciutto with a mint leaf as garnish.
Or better yet, crush the almonds and mix them into the goat cheese mixture. Quite a decadent little bite!
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Honey
4 ounces thinly sliced dry-cured ham, such as jamón ibérico, serrano or prosciutto torn into 16 long strips
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
16 Marcona almonds, lightly crushed
Small mint leaves, for garnish
Arrange the figs cut side up on a plate. Drizzle with the port and season with black pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, using a fork, blend the goat cheese with the honey, scallion, crushed almonds and a pinch of flaky sea salt.
Dollop small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on the fig halves. Wrap each cheese-topped fig half in a strip of ham and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the figs with olive oil, top with the mint and sea salt and serve.
These bite-sized appetizers are a perfect addition to your finger food array. The original recipe from Martha Stewart was altered to streamline the process and add more depth of flavor with the addition of bacon, and swapping out rosemary and thyme for the parsley.
Martha instructs to create breadcrumbs using 3 slices of white sandwich bread. We had some already made from focaccia which not only saved time but added even more flavor. It is not recommended to make them ahead of time as the bread will turn gummy.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs.
In a food processor, add garlic, goat cheese, bacon, thyme and rosemary, red-pepper flakes and remaining bread crumbs. Season with salt, and pulse filling until combined.
Spoon filling into each mushroom, pressing down with fingers to firm up. Roll filled side in reserved breadcrumbs. Place on prepared baking sheet; bake until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
An Italian, Middle-Eastern mash-up if you will. In a twist, this version of Sicilian eggplant dish is roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, so you don’t have to bother with any deep- or pan-frying. The tomato paste and cinnamon give it depth, the sherry vinegar lends brightness, and the raisins and brown sugar offer balance.
This variation on Italian caponata becomes a main course atop fluffy couscous and creamy goat cheese. Buy the freshest eggplant you can find, it should feel heavy and have no soft spots, and you won’t need to peel or salt it to pull out any bitterness. Because pine nuts are traditional in caponata, they’re the first choice, but they can be pricey so pepitas or chopped walnuts make fine substitutions. Finally, if you don’t like goat cheese, substitute ricotta or farmer cheese. But the cheese adds a welcome component, so don’t omit it.
Under the couscous, the goat cheese melts into a creamy, salty, tangy puddle.
G. Daniela galarza
NOTE: Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered containers for up to 4 days.
1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow or red onion (8 to 10 oz.), chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato (6 to 8 oz.), chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. light brown sugar or honey, or to taste
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas or chopped walnuts
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or to taste
For the Couscous
1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) couscous
3 oz. soft goat cheese, or more if desired
1/4 cup torn fresh basil, mint or parsley (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and use your hands to toss everything together. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, followed by the brown sugar or honey, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Toss again, then spread into an even layer.
Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, flip and redistribute vegetables so they cook evenly. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
Transfer the pan to a heatproof surface. Mash the garlic cloves into a paste. Push the vegetables aside to expose a small area of the hot metal and place the tomato paste on it. Using a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables, followed by the raisins, nuts or seeds, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar, salt and/or pepper as desired.
Make the couscous: About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, in a medium lidded saucepan over high heat, bring the water or stock, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. Immediately pour in the couscous, ensuring it’s moistened throughout, then cover, remove from the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
To serve, portion about a quarter of the goat cheese into the center of each plate. Top with a pile of couscous and some of the caponata. Garnish with the torn herbs and more goat cheese, if desired.