I just love figs! When I lived in Norfolk my friend had a beautiful fig tree that grew up her sunny wall. The taste of a just-ripe fig straight from the tree reminds me of summer.
Figs are easy and tasty. It makes sense to add to a late summer menu as a starter because it’s so easy. If you don’t know anything about figs, try this wonderful guide, which provides info about the different types, when you can get fresh figs, how to store and even how to serve. For me, I love to slice them up, add to the plate with a few other ingredients et voilà – delicious and healthy too.
The fig recipe I have chosen comes from my Davina’s 6 weeks to Sugar Free cookbook bought in a bid to rid my life of processed sugar (it’s a work in progress :-)). In our household, we gave this recipe 9 out of 10. I make it regularly in the summer because I adore quick and easy recipes that are relatively healthy with a bit of cheese added!
For the main course, I’m going for fresh halibut steaks with tagliatelle in a homemade tomato sauce (the sauce can be made a day in advance if you prefer).
This dish is simple and tasty and there are a couple of bonuses: you can spend most time with your guests and second, you can use up any sad tomatoes and other veg currently stuck in the bottom of the veg drawer.
The recipes below tends to be enough to make four generous helpings with leftovers.
Figs with prosciutto and goat’s cheese
Fresh halibut steaks with tagliatelle and homemade tomato sauce
Gluten-free salted caramel brownie
Fresh strawberry tart
Apple and cinnamon strudel
Figs with prosciutto and goat’s cheese
4 British figs – you may still be able to acquire them now, Farmers (in the market or at their shop on Mill Street), sell them in a pack of four. Figs won’t ripen once they are off the tree, so buy ripe ones the day before or the day you need them as they do not keep long.
About 125g goats cheese – I love the goat log we sell – creamy, lovely rind, a bit sharp in your throat, yum. Alternatively, you can try The Mousetrap on Church Street or the cheese van at Ludlow Market.
4-8 slices of prosciutto
Lane Cottage Salad leaves or other strong salad leaves
Good quality olive oil/ balsamic vinegar/ salt/ pepper to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 220c/gas 7.
2. Slice a deep cross in the figs almost to the bottom and squeeze them from the bottom (like you would a jacket potato to fit in the butter) so it pushes the pointy top bits out. Put them in a roasting dish.
3. Wrap each fig in proscuitto, minimum 1 slice per fig. I tend to use 1 ½ for each one. Then dollop a bit of goat’s cheese on the top. Divvying it up between the number of figs you have and your preference for a lot or a little. I put on loads and use up my goats cheese as I love it. There are no leftovers.
4. Pop the figs in the oven for about 10 minutes until the meat is crisp and the goats cheese begins to melt.
5. Serve on a small bed of strong salad leaves (we love Lane cottage leaves), with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side for guest to flavour to their taste.
This could be made earlier in the day and kept covered in the fridge until you are ready to cook. If you are serving it as a main course, why not add a loaf from one of our local bakers (maybe sourdough from Price & Sons or Swift’s Shropshire Crunch?)
Halibut steaks with tagliatelle and homemade tomato sauce
Halibut steaks (sourced super fresh from The Fish House of course) (1 steak per guest)
Generous knob of butter
Teaspoon of capers
Homemade tomato sauce
5lbs or 2kg bag of local Heritage tomatoes, available from The Fruit Basket, Farmers or Myriad Organics if you fancy organic ones – chop the tomatoes
2 peppers chopped
3 garlic cloves – peel and crush with the side of the knife
2 onions – peel and finely chopped
Glug of good quality olive oil
Pinch of oregano/mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Any vegetables you want to use up broccoli, mangetout, squash, carrots – chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
2. Place all ingredients into a deep baking dish (make it deep enough so that as the tomatoes break down doesn’t spill over)
3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, you can add a pinch of dried oregano or mixed herbs.
4. Bake in the oven for until the vegetables are soft (at least 40 mins).
6. Remove from oven, let it cool then blend/liquidise. I like mine totally smooth, but if you prefer chunky….
7. When you are cooking the fish, just reheat gently on the hob in a pan. Any leftover sauce we use for pasta sauce or pizza topping and it freezes beautifully.
1. Prepare the tagliatelle according to cooking instructions
2. Season the fish steaks with salt and pepper to taste, melt the butter in the pan over a medium heat, adding the capers to the butter and set aside
3. Next, heat frying pan until hot, add butter and sear steaks usually about 5 to 6 minutes each side until golden brown.
4. Spoon over the melted butter and caper sauce as they cook, making sure the steak is opaque throughout.
5. You can add tomato sauce to the pasta and dish up remainder for guests to add as they please. Plate the pasta and fish. It is perfect served with extra steamed veg like broccoli, carrots, green beans on the side.
I believe in spending time with my guests and because most of them like me, I don’t feel it necessary to break my back to bake or make dessert from scratch, well not all the time. I recommend taking the pain out of making a pudding and buy something. Even better, go local.
I round off our late summer menu with a selection of pastries rather than one big pud such as: the strawberry tart above from Matty’s Delice at the market in Ludlow; salted caramel brownie from Harp Lane Deli and a couple of cannoli from Smokehouse Deli and Cicchetti Bar.