Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting
In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see….
from “Figs” by DH Lawrence
Figs are amongst the oldest known fruits – with references dating back to the ninth century BC. They are said to have been Cleopatra’s favourite fruit; widely thought to be an aphrodisiac; and revered by the ancient Greeks as a symbol of abundance, love, fertility, and sweetness. The fig plant appears in the story of Adam and Eve. And of course, in DH Lawrence’s erotic poem – “Figs” (link to full poem).
But besides all that – figs are just plain trendy. They’re a current high-fashion food item cropping up in kitchens and on menus all over the place. And for good reason. They’re on various super-food lists for their many health-related benefits and because they are good served raw, cooked, and dried – and work in both savoury and sweet dishes – they are a fabulous ingredient to work with. My favourite pizza is made with pesto, figs, and blue-cheese and one of my all-time favourite appetizers is this fig and olive tapenade.
The season for fresh figs is relatively short. In North America, they’re typically available in late summer – pre-fall. This simple three ingredient salad is a great combination of robust flavours – the slightly bitter taste of arugula makes a perfect backdrop for the sweetness of figs and both are offset by the creaminess of the blue cheese.
Arugula, Fig, and Blue Cheese Salad
Adjust the quantities to suit yourself!
Fresh arugula (known elsewhere in the world as “rocket”)
Ripe, fresh figs
Creamy blue cheese such as blue brie, Gorgonzola, creamy Danish blue, or Cambozola.
Whisk together equal parts of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Sweeten with a tiny taste of maple syrup or honey. I generally use 1/4 cup each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and about a teaspoonful of maple syrup.
To assemble the salad – wash and dry the arugula and figs. Slice the figs in half. Toss the figs and arugula in the dressing and place crumbled blue cheese atop the figs.