Braised Black Figs with Arugula and Aged Parmesan

Description:

Braised Black Figs with Arugula and Aged Parmesan

Ingredients:

Figs are one of the sexiest foods you can find on the market. For centuries, figs have been symbols of feminine sexuality, and it's not hard to see why: their delicate, curved shape, the softness of their skin and their sweet, tender insides... oh. This salad is all about sensuality. The braising process in the beginning pulls out the sweet juices inside the fruit and warms them up to a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and the pairing of the sweet fig with the peppery arugula and rich, salty Parmesan creates the perfect counterpoint. Enjoy...

Prepare:

1 pint basket whole black figs, sliced in half lengthwise
1 bunch baby arugula, washed and stemmed
4 oz. aged Parmesan, roughly shaved
3 tblsp. aged balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tblsp. butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
Fresh cracked black pepper
Salt

How to Serve:

In a seasoned cast iron skillet, melt the butter with the sugar. Braise the figs, face down in the pan, for 2-3 minutes. The face of the fig will become sticky and slightly golden around the edges. Remove from heat. Turn face side up to cool.

In a skillet, heat up the balsamic vinegar until bubbly, then reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the vinegar is reduced by half. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, toss the arugula with 1 tblsp. olive oil to coat; squeeze the lemon over the top; toss again. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Heap the arugula on a plate and arrange the figs over the top. Sprinkle with the rough shavings of Parmesan.


Experiment:
This is best served on a small salad plate so that all of the ingredients can be clearly seen. The figs are shiny and dark, accentuated by the glossy green leaves of arugula and complimented by the pale cheese. Serve this this as the perfect beginning to your meal, alongside other small plates, or as an accompaniment to a red meat dish like lamb or beef.


Wine Pairings:
For a more pronounced flavor, try substitute creamy chunks of blue cheese - a Stilton, for instance - in place of the Parmesan. The figs can stand up to the strength of the cheese, but the dish itself becomes a predominant player in the meal, so only do this if it won't compete with the other flavors you're assembling.

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