Although I am not the biggest fan of sweet and savoury together, it is practically compulsory on a cheese board so I have been trying to develop my palate in that direction.
This very simple recipe offers sweet, tart and savoury flavours through the combination of figs, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. This recipe is extremely easy – a rarity on this blog!
Excitingly, this dish is another excuse to whip out my new-ish favourite ingredient – Aspall’s Apple Balsamic Vinegar (see another of my recipes which uses this delicious ingredient, Pakistani Carrot Salad with Avocado, Hazelnuts, Raspberry & a Quince-Apple Balsamic Dressing).
Traditional balsamic is all very well and good, but this takes it to a whole other level! Rich and sweet with deep caramel tones, but is also gorgeously tart and apple-y – just how I like my cider! I can actually quite happily eat it off the spoon.
The sugars in the vinegar complement and enhance the figs perfectly, lightly caramelising during the short, high-heat roast they receive – especially helpful if your figs are a little under par.
The savoury notes of the flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper help temper this sweetness and connect the sugary fruit flavours to the salty, earthy, savoury cheese I strongly encourage you to eat them with.
There are a wide selection of cheeses you can choose to serve with these figs, several of which are pictured here.
A soft, creamy goat cheese sprinkled with fresh thyme…
A salty, lightly toasted halloumi paired with a few leaves of fresh mint…
Or, as pictured at the beginning of the post, the rich, highly flavoured, elegant combination of a piece of Stilton (or better still, an unpasteurised Stichelton) with a small glass of aged Port – a fantastic match not only for the Stilton, but also for the honeyed sweetness of the figs.
At the end of your next dinner party (what do you mean you don’t have dinner parties?!), instead of unwrapping a few, mismatched supermarket cheeses, consider a small, charming plated cheese dish such as this. It is super quick and easy to throw together, but looks beautiful and allows all the individual flavours, textures and colours to truly shine.
If it’s a super cheese board you’re aiming for – and a mighty fine aim that is too – The Cowgirl Creamery Cookbook recommends that you serve these figs with something savoury (their onion-garlic confit) and something sharp (their pickled red onions) to balance the sweetness of the figs. Both sound like excellent suggestions to me. And if you think it could do with a little crunch, why not add my lovely Scottish oatcakes and really do your cheeseboard proud.
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