figs

Sep 252016
 

Roast Chicken, Beetroot and Fig Salad

 

 

This is a wonderful salad to make when you want to turn some leftover roast chicken into a delicious and healthy meal. I love roasting my chicken with lemons, garlic, bell peppers, fresh thyme, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, so these flavours come through in my salad. Use your favourite roast chicken recipe or buy some good quality ready-roasted chicken from your supermarket or deli.

 

Beetroots can be conveniently roasted in the oven at the same time as your chicken. Simply trim the stems (without cutting into the beetroots), wrap the beetroots in some aluminium foil, and roast in an oven-proof dish at 200°C/400°F for approximately 30-60 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot). The beetroots are ready when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. Allow the beetroots to cool to room temperature and then pinch off their skins. They are now ready to eat. Beetroots can also be bought ready-cooked and vacuum-packed in a bag. If you decide to buy ready-cooked beetroots, make sure they are not the pickled type. (NB: If your beetroots have fresh-looking stems and leaves, you can chop and sauté them for another dish).

 

Figs bring an important taste component to this salad but are not always in season. Figs have two seasons – a short season in early summer and then a longer season from late summer until autumn. If you can’t get fresh figs, you can use dried figs or dried apricots.

 

 

ROAST CHICKEN, BEETROOT and FIG SALAD

(Makes 2 main course salads)

 

Ingredients:

1-2 cups roasted chicken, roughly chopped

3-4 heads of Baby Gem lettuce

2 medium-sized beetroots

4 small figs

4 Tbsp Pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

4-5 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Sea salt (to taste)

 

Directions:

  1. This recipe assumes that you have already cooked your roast chicken and beetroots. You can use any recipe for roast chicken which you like or buy some good quality ready-roasted chicken from your supermarket or deli. Beetroots can be roasted at the same time as the chicken. Simply trim the stems (without cutting into the beetroots), wrap the beetroots in some aluminium foil, and roast in an oven-proof dish at 200°C/400°F for approximately 30-60 minutes (depending on the size of the beetroot). The beetroots are ready when they can be easily pierced with a skewer. Allow the beetroots to cool to room temperature and then pinch off their skins. They are now ready to eat. Beetroots can also be bought ready-cooked and vacuum-packed in a bag. If you decide to buy ready-cooked beetroots, make sure they are not the pickled type. (NB: If your beetroots have fresh-looking stems and leaves, you can chop and sauté them for another dish).
  2. Prepare your balsamic vinaigrette by combining the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt in a small jar. Taste and adjust as necessary. Set aside.
  3. Remove the outer leaves of the Baby Gem lettuce heads. Wash and dry the lettuce and then chop into bite-size pieces. Divide between two main course salad bowls or plates.
  4. Cut the beetroot into wedges and scatter on top of the lettuce.
  5. Wash and quarter the figs and scatter them around the salad
  6. Roughly chop the chicken into large bite-size pieces (it is upto you if you want to include the skin or not). Loosely place in the centre of the salad.
  7. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds on top.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for upto 12 hours.
  9. Pour the dressing on the two salads just prior to serving.

 

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Oct 232015
 

October Snack Platter - Figs and Persimmon

 

Dear friends,

I have decided to start writing a monthly post called ‘Seasonal Snacks’ about seasonal fruits and vegetables which we can all snack on easily throughout the month. I hope you’ll find it useful and it will help you know what to look out for when you’re shopping for food. My aim is to mostly keep it raw, easy to prepare (usually just wash and cut), and always seasonal. This is my first Seasonal Snacks post, ‘October – Figs and Persimmons’.

Making healthy eating easier!

Love,

Erum (Total Salads)

 

 

In the Northern Hemisphere, figs are in season from June to October while persimmons are in season from October to February. Because fig season comes to an end just as persimmon season begins, there is only a short period of time every year (roughly around October) when you can eat them together on the same platter. So grab the chance to feast on them together this month while you still can!

 

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

 

SEASONAL SNACKS: OCTOBER – FIGS AND PERSIMMONS

 

Ingredients:

Ripe persimmons (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

Ripe figs (as many as you can eat in one sitting)

 

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry your figs and persimmons.
  2. Using a serrated bread knife (or other sharp knife), cut the fruit evenly in half or quarters.
  3. Place on a platter and serve immediately. Best served at room temperature.
  4. Any leftover cut fruit can be kept in the fridge and should be eaten within a day.

 

Share your thoughts: Do you prefer figs or persimmons? Or, like me, do you love them both equally?

 

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Sep 052015
 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

Eating fresh figs in Dubai is a rather decadent experience. Hard to find and usually expensive, I only buy a few at a time when they are in season from July to October. As much as I love washing the fruit and eating it straight, I know that sharing is important and a great way to stretch a small amount of figs between many people is to cut them into wedges and serve them in a salad.

 

I recently made a salad using fresh figs, Puy lentils, goat’s cheese, pine nuts and dark green leaves tossed in maple vinaigrette dressing. It was a delicious accompaniment to a roast lamb dinner served on the border just between summer and autumn.

 

Fig, Lentil and Goat's Cheese Salad

 

FIG, LENTIL AND GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

 

Dressing Ingredients:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

 

Salad Ingredients:

3 fresh figs

85g / 3 oz / 4 cups (loosely packed) dark green leaves (ie. rocket/arugula, chard, spinach or a mix)

100g / 3.5 oz dried Puy lentils (or 200g cooked Puy lentils)

60g / 2 oz crumbly goat’s cheese

3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shaking well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
  2. Wash and dry your green leaves. A salad spinner or a tea towel work well to remove excess water. Set aside.
  3. Cook your Puy lentils by simmering them in a pot of salted water (I also add a dried bay leaf to the water if I have it) for 15-20 minutes. See my step-by-step guide (with pictures) on How To Cook Puy Lentils. When done, the lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain the lentils (discard the water) and allow to cool. Set aside.
  4. Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. I use a small cast iron pan. Toss the pine nuts once in a while with a wooden spoon to make sure they toast evenly. Allow to cool on a plate and set aside.
  5. Wash and dry the figs. Remove the stalks on top and cut the figs into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. Set aside.
  6. To assemble the salad, loosely toss the cooled lentils and the green leaves in a large bowl.
  7. Place the tossed lentils and green leaves on a flat serving platter.
  8. Scatter your figs, toasted pine nuts and crumbled cheese on top.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. When you are ready to serve, drizzle the maple vinaigrette dressing on top of the salad. You may not need to use all of the dressing.

 

 

 

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Sep 072014
 

Figs and Pomegranate in Spiced Syrup

 

 

It’s early September, and I can’t find any figs in my supermarket. Last week there were lots of lovely tiny ones which you could finish in one bite, but this week nothing. Fig season is from July to October, so I’m hoping I will still manage to bag a few of the season’s last figs before it’s too late.

 

Pomegranates, on the other hand, are plentiful. Pomegranate is a winter fruit, and grows in the Northern hemisphere from September to February and the Southern hemisphere from March to July. The ones in my supermarket are from India, where pomegranates grow the whole year round.

 

My usual recourse with figs is to eat them plain or to prepare them as Figs with Mascarpone and Honey, but last week I decided to use my stash of figs for something different. Here’s my recipe for Figs and Pomegranate in Cardamom and Clove Spiced Syrup. Delicious spooned over yogurt, ice cream or cake.

 

 

 

FIGS AND POMEGRANATE in CARDAMOM AND CLOVE SPICED SYRUP

 

Ingredients:

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

250g / 8oz ripe figs (approximately 10 small figs)

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

6 green cardomom pods (whole)

6 cloves

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, pour 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, 6 cardamom pods, 6 cloves, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the saucepan on the stove and heat on medium for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to infuse. After 10 minutes, switch off the heat, but leave the syrup in the saucepan to continue infusing.
  3. Prepare the figs by washing and drying them gently. With a small sharp knife, cut off the stem at the top of each fig. Cut the fig into quarters or sixths (you want them to be bite-size). Set aside.
  4. My preferred way to de-seed a pomegranate is by what I call ‘The Water Method’. To do this, wash and dry the skin of your pomegranate. Fill a large bowl with fresh water and set it aside. Using a small sharp paring knife, cut off the flower stem at the top of the pomegranate. Take your knife and carefully score the skin from top to bottom into 4-6 segments (make sure you only cut the skin, not the seeds). Holding the pomegranate in your two hands, carefully pry it apart. It should separate easily. Take a segment, and submerge it in the bowl of fresh water. Start pulling apart the seeds under the water while discarding the pith and skin. The seeds will sink to the bottom while most of the pith will float. Do the same for all the segments of the pomegranate. When you are finished, drain the pomegranate seeds. They are now ready to use. Depending on how fresh your pomegranate is, you can store the seeds in the refrigerator for upto 3 days.
  5. Once the syrup has cooled down to room temperature, remove the cardamom pods and cloves (this is important as they will be hard to find after you have added the pomegranate seeds). Add the pomegranate seeds and figs. Gently mix. Put in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to allow the syrup to infuse its flavor into the fruit. Can be refrigerated for upto 48 hours.
  6. Eat in its own or spoon it over yogurt, ice cream or cake.

 

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