22 September 2010

slinging hash: figs and basil with pomegranate vinaigrette

I am having a love affair with a salad. It began with a dish of sausages and figs in a pomegranate dressing that appealed to me. I bought the figs, made the dressing, grilled sausages. And then I got distracted, and put a few onions and red peppers on the grill; I've never been good at following recipes.

We had sausages and grilled peppers and onions with pomegranate dressing and grilled flat bread for dinner, and as I washed the dishes, I remembered I'd forgotten about the figs.

The next day I sliced the figs and, in a fit of inspiration, arranged them on a plate with some basil leaves, drizzled with some of the leftover dressing, and my new favorite salad was born. I don't know what possessed me to pair basil with the figs. I am an intuitive home cook, not generally prone to  inventing flavor pairings or restaurant flourishes. But the combination of meaty figs, with their gently popping seeds, and the sweet-pungent licorice tinged basil is exactly right; so clean, refreshing, and with the vinaigrette, just the right amount of sour, that I can't get enough of it. I have been eating this for lunch, dinner and anything in between.

I am so entranced by this dish that when I refused to leave the table to help Sacha with his bedtime ablutions, he accused me of being greedy. At the time I found this delightfully absurd, but considering that I ate an entire box of figs in one sitting, he may have had a point. Whatever the case may be, it was worth it.

Figs and basil with pomegranate vinaigrette
Adapted from Bon Appetit

fresh figs
basil leaves
salt and pepper
pomegranate vinaigrette

Pomegranate vinaigrette
Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern markets, and at Whole Foods. I like the Al-Wadi brand. 

1/4 cup balsamic or white wine or champagne vinegar, or a combination
1/2-3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup; season with salt and pepper

Arrange figs and basil leaves on individual plates or a platter. Season with salt and a few grinds of pepper, drizzle with vinaigrette.

It looks beautiful on the plate, that I must hurry up and arrange a dinner party soon, before figs are out of season, so I can watch people swoon.

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