Love fresh figs, there is nothing quite like them. I picked up the last basket today at Whole Foods Market. They were ripe and needed to be used straight away. I had just the recipe to showcase their flavor. It’s hard to describe what a fresh fig tastes like. They are sweet but not too sweet and they have a lot of small seeds. I remember as a child always begging my mom to buy Fig Newtons. They were not real popular in our household as I was the only one that liked them.
This is a great salad with spiced glazed cashews and perfectly ripened figs. In the first part of this recipe you are instructed to bring sugar and water together until a light amber caramel forms. For some reason I always seem to have problems with caramel, this time it took me two tries to get the consistency right. The first time I boiled it too long and all the moisture was gone. The sugar was flaky and stuck to the pan. The second time was just right. Chinese five-spice is then added to the caramel mixture to add tons of flavor. Next, the raw cashews are thrown in and then spread on a baking sheet. The end result reminded me of a brittle. Next time I will use roasted nuts for the crunch and then break them up into smaller pieces. The dressing was fantastic and the addition of the black sesame seeds was spot on. We loved the way all the flavors worked together in the end, definitely a recipe worth repeating.
This recipe has been slightly adapted from the Food and Wine magazine. Recipe was created by Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz who own Num Pang, a sanwich shop in New York City.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 cup raw cashews (next time will use roasted)
Salt to taste
1/4 cup canola oil, more for brushing cut side of figs
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, green parts only, thinly cut
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (toasted)
8 ounces mixed baby greens
Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium sized saucepan, combine water and sugar together and bring to a boil, continue to boil over a low heat undisturbed about 5 minutes. The mixture should now be a light amber color.
Remove from heat add five-spice and butter, whisk until combined. Add nuts, cover completely with mixture and then pour unto the baking sheet. Spread in a even layer. Season with salt while still hot. After cooled, break up nuts.
In a small bowl, whisk together canola oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, scallions and black sesame seeds. Set aside.
Prepare grill, lightly brush cut side of figs with canola oil, season with salt and pepper.
Grill until slightly charred about 2 minutes. Remove from grill and set aside.
Arrange lettuce on serving platter, sprinkle with 1/2 dressing. Add figs and nuts. Serve salad with the rest of the dressing on the side. Enjoy!