In addition to studying for my law degree, I tend to take entirely too many projects on. Mind you, I am not some sort of workaholic with insane work-ethical worldview that makes me run around doing stuff like crazy – far from it. I am lazy at heart. But, there are just so many interesting things to visit, see, read, do, make, write, cook, grow and eat out there! And as a result, I run around trying to juggle the schoolwork and hobbies like a madwoman.
Like this morning – I just got done watering all the orchids and picking up around the kitchen, and it was already lunchtime! Where did the bloody time go, tell me?!
Guess where I take the shortcut? Lunchtime. More often than not, I end up opening the fridge and staring into it in fascination trying to figure out what I can take out and prepare in 20 minutes or less. No, ramen noodles aren’t on the menu – ‘something to eat’ in our household which consists of myself and a spoiled other half needs to be healthy, delicious and fresh.
Unless I realize (in horror) that we’d run out of our resident packet of greens, what we end up eating on a daily basis, is some permutation of a green salad. Frankly, I don’t have a single set ‘recipe’ for a green salad – I just grab all that looks promising out of the fridge: greens, vegetables, cheese of some sort, and cured or cooked meat of some description, and then figure out what sorts of seasoning and dressing it would go well with.
This salad, however, was memorable enough in its semi-accidental nature, that I think it ought to be written down and shared, for it turned out lovely and fresh and full of rounded flavor without any component overpowering the whole. The delicate sweetness of roast figs goes oh-so-wonderfully with the smoky meat, and the freshness of the mint and basil set it all off to perfection. I could wax poetic about how great it is to have fresh potted herbs on my windowsill, but I’ll leave that for another time.
Anyway, the salad! The quantities given were enough for a large lunch salad for two people. If you want to feed four, feel free to double the recipe as main dish for lunch or light supper, or use below quantities and have smaller portions as starters.
What you need:
- Two large handfuls of baby salad greens
- 1 red sweet paprika – I used the long sweet variety that are thinner-fleshed and a little less watery than typical bell peppers, but using a bell pepper here would harm the salad not at all
- 1 good-sized tomato
- A chunk of cucumber 10-15cm long
- 8 very fresh mint leaves, rolled and chiffonaded
- 4 sprigs of Greek basil, snipped – a large sprig of regular basil, chiffonaded, will also work.
- 150g white brined curd cheese (I use a German white cheese which is a bit less salty than feta, but feta or anything like it will work too – you might need to reduce the amount of salt)
- 1-2 figs
- 1-2 teaspoons of honey
- Kabanos sausage, or other smoky-flavored dry-cured or smoked sausage, sliced into easily edible bits.
- A large (or small) pinch of sea salt flakes and a good grinding of black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
- 2-4 tablespoons of good extra-virgin olive oil
What to do:
- Slice the figs into quarters nearly all the way through, so that the four quarters remain attached at the bottom. Drip a teaspoon of honey into each fig, place in a baking dish and bake at 225C for approximately 10 minutes or until the figs are open and bright-pink inside and ooze a little bit of pink syrup when prodded.
- Remove from oven.
- While the figs roast, toss the greens, chopped peppers, cucumber and tomato, finely snipped/chiffonaded fresh herbs and cubed brined curd cheese to the bowl.
- Sprinkle with vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and toss thoroughly.
- Add olive oil and toss again.
- Plate the salad out, and garnish with roast fig or figs on top, and smoky sausages on the side (or wherever the heck you want them!).
Enjoy. The entire ‘cooking’ process for this takes approximately 15 minutes. In fact, there’s even time to make a couple of cups of honeyed mint tea to go with it.
You don’t know how to make mint tea? Nothing easier! It is one of my favorite non-caffeinated hot drinks out there, and probably the easiest to make – and it is lovely, lovely, lovely for your throat if you are down with a cold!
Take a large (500ml or so) coffee or soup mug. Place inside it a sprig of fresh mint, and a teaspoon of honey. Pour over boiling water and let steep about 10 minutes. Stir honey in and remove the sprig. And it’s good with nearly any Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean-style dish
you I can think of. Try it, you definitely won’t regret it! (Unless you hate mojitos or something.)