I made a brief, flimsy attempt to learn to play the piano when I was little. There were two songs I “mastered”: Imagine and These Are a Few of My Favorite Things. Weighty and meaningful, both. This post is dedicated to two of my favorite things: figs and engagements.
Let’s jump to engagements first. I think back to my own engagement, and it was the absolute sweetest of periods, which is why I am absolutely over the moon that there were TWO engagements in my circle last week. Both my sister and one of my very bestest friends got engaged! Ayeeee! So much love!!! I knew the where/when/how of each proposal beforehand, and oh my gosh it was hard to keep my mouth zipped. I am so incredibly excited for both couples and all that lies ahead.
Favorite thing #2: Figs. They are a beautiful fruit, no? Not just easy on the eyes, they’re also chock full of fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin K, potassium, phosphorus, capsaicin (more on that below) and magnesium, and they taste great! This salad puts the figs to good, unexpected use. Sweet figs and spicy jalapeños…sugar and spicy. Very nice. Trust.
Two things to keep in mind before you jump into this recipe. Don’t let the jalapeños catch on fire when you’re charring them. Duh. Second, jalapeños contain quite a bit of capsaicin—an antioxidant that is responsible for the hot hot hot spice. Capsaicin is a funny little double edged sword. Its spicy kick releases endorphins; some ancient Aztec and Mayan societies considered chili peppers an aphrodisiac. Moreover, the antioxidant has also been touted for its (albeit mild) ability to bump up metabolism and curb appetite. Word. On the other hand, capsaicin can wreak some solid misery on your skin so you want to be careful about handling the peppers if you have sensitive skin (wear gloves), and most definitely do not touch the peppers and then touch your eyes. And there you have it. Enjoy!
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 6 fresh Black Mission figs
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups greens, washed (spinach and arugula work nicely)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 ounces feta
- Wash and dry the jalapeño peppers, then spear them with a long metal skewer. Turn your gas burner on medium, or light a gas or charcoal grill. Hold peppers 1 inch from the open flame for 1 to 2 minutes, until the side of the pepper is evenly charred and blistered. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Immediately put hot peppers into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a snug lid, letting peppers steam for 10 minutes. The heat from the peppers and the moisture from the steam will help loosen the charred skins so you can more easily peel them. Once the time is up, use a knife to scrape the skins off. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and julienne.
- Gently wash and cut figs in half lengthwise, removing all stems. Heat honey in a skillet over medium heat, making sure honey is coating the entire surface area. Place figs cut side down and let cook until caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Remove figs from the pan and add ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, letting the liquid reduce for 45 seconds.
- Mix together arugula and cilantro and place in your serving dish. Top with caramelized figs, jalapeño peppers, and feta, and toss with balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.
food for thought
Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.