Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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First of all – an update on the gorgeous Piglet.  Here she is about three weeks ago – fresh out of the shelter with epic mange.  (First two images stolen from her rescuer – Fairy Dogfather.)

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Here she is about a week later after some meds & one mange dip.  All pink & ALL bald.

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And here she is – yesterday.

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All we have been doing is steeping supermarket jarred garlic in warm water & giving her a sponge bath in it two times a day (plus a little antibiotic medication) and her fur is coming in so fast you can almost watch it grow!  She is the most incredible little girl!  I am so honored to know her.

In other news – by boyfriend (Miles) lives in Little Rock.  Sometimes, he shares some Arkansas flavor with me.  Lots of bars with great names.  Lots of bars that look like you could find trouble if you wanted it.  Maybe even a mullet or two.  Certainly a few gun racks in the parking lot.  Definitely some misplaced anti-Obamacare sentiment from a lotta folks who probably need it the most.  God bless America!  (Photos by Miles Miller.)

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And even cooler – authentic southern BBQ joynts like Bubba’s here.

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It reminds me a LOT of True Blood’s Merlotte’s!!!

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And looky what they serve up at Bubba’s!

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Looks like cold beer, fries & the charred forearm of an adult human.  Yum!

Speaking of yum – this salad is outrageous!  Easy & bursting with different flavors & lots of different textures.  Pretty, too – no?

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I have a grill on my stove & I love it enough to consider marrying it.  If you do not have one – but you like grilling things – maybe invest in a grill pan.  You don’t have to marry it.  I use my grill pan a lot, too, even though I have the real grill.   I won’t let anyone grill MEAT on my stove because it just gets disgusting fat everywhere & I don’t want that.  I have enough disgusting fat on ME – I don’t need it in the catch pan of my Viking, too.  So – if folks want to grill meat on my stove – they use a grill pan.  It also makes for pretty quesadillas – see!

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That’s my Squash Blossom Quesadilla.  As enjoyable to eat as it was to look at.

Anyway – the figs don’t HAVE to be grilled but it adds a nice look & a subtle flavor.

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These are green figs.  The ones that are purply-red inside are prettier but the green ones were all that were available so I grabbed them.  You can eat the outer skin of figs, too, so these guys can be eaten like giant grapes.

The toasting of the walnuts is a bizarrely important step in this recipe.  It changes their flavor significantly – so do not skip it.  Quantity here is really up to you so I am only going to list the ingredients I used.  You can use more or less of each to suit your taste.  Also – I used watercress but arugula or baby mixed greens would do very well, too.

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Grilled Fig & Watercress Salad with Goat Cheese, Toasted Walnuts & Balsamic Glaze

INGREDIENTS

Lots of balsamic vinegar

Watercress (or arugula or other mixed greens)

Walnuts – chopped

Figs

Goat Cheese

Olive oil

Fresh ground pepper

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DIRECTIONS

To make the balsamic glaze, boil some balsamic & then reduce it to a simmer.  Cook it down until it thickens.  It reduces quickly & 1/4 cup of balsamic produces about 2 tsps of glaze – so – keep that in mind when deciding how much balsamic to add to the pan.  If it gets too thick – add more balsamic or some water.  Set aside.  Here it is on my Grilled Watermelon & Feta Salad with Mint, Arugula & Balsamic Glaze.

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Halve the figs & brush with olive oil.  Grill for about 1 minute or until grill marks appear.

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Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.

Toast the chopped walnuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes (or until they become fragrant & just begin to brown a bit) being very careful not to burn them.  Set aside.

Now, simply assemble the salad with the watercress, figs, goat cheese & walnuts.  Drizzle a little olive oil over it & drizzle some balsamic glaze.  Grind fresh pepper over it liberally. Taste it & then lose all semblance of control and eat it with your hands whilst standing up. Grunting might happen.  Pleasure definitely will.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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If you live even remotely near Glendale, California – you simply MUST check out Super King – the grocery store near there on San Fernando Road by the 2 freeway.  It is so friggin’ CHEAP to buy produce there AND they have lots of unusual seasonal items like squash blossoms & sour grapes & grape leaves etc.  I bought kale there this week – 3 for .99 cents.  Kale costs $2.50 a bunch at my local Gelson’s.

Anyway – on my last trip to Super King – I got a litle container of blackberries for about .79 cents and I bought a container of green figs.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with either (as I find blackberries always to be disappointingly sour and I have never purchased a fig before) but they were practically free & offered new culinary avenues to explore.  As it turned but, I didn’t explore very far – in that – I just made another pizza but it was a delicious & uniquely flavored pizza with a lot going on.  As it turned out, I again found all but a few of the blackberries to be sour & I found myself picking them off of this pizza as I ate it.  And I did eat it.  ALL of it.  But not the blackberries.  So – if you make this pizza – be sure to use very ripe berries or eighty-six them entirely.  They add a pretty color but there are so many other flavors vying for attention here – you won’t miss the berries.

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Fig, Fennel, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Pizza

INGREDIENTS

(I won’t list quantities here because that is a matter of taste)

Pizza dough of choice (mine is HERE)

1 fennel bulb – shaved very thinly

Blackberries

Goat cheese

Walnuts – crushed a bit

Figs – cut thin

Honey

Fresh rosemary – chopped finely

olive oil

S&P to taste

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 450-500 degrees & be sure it reaches temperature before putting your pizza in there.

Roll out your dough & put it on the cooking sheet.  Brush some olive oil on there & maybe lightly salt it.  (I went a little heavy with the olive oil.  Oops!)

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Set the walnuts aside for now.  Then, simply layer the fennel & some rosemary & figs & berries & goat cheese & on your crust.  Top with more rosemary.

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Bake the pizza for 12-18 minutes or until the crust is browned & the cheese melted a bit.   When you think the pizza is about 3 minutes from being done – add the walnuts.  Finish baking.

When the pizza is done – drizzle all over with honey.

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Slice it up & eat it.  I added some crushed red pepper because that is how I roll.  Enjoy!

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