A fabulous summer salad of sweet, ripe figs and soft buffala mozzarella, perfectly balanced with freshly toasted Iberian pine nuts and crisp salad leaves. All dressed lightly with quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and a squirt of Jerez Sherry vinegar. Delicious on its own as a starter with warm bread to mop up what’s left on the plate, or as a stunning accompaniment to a platter of Jamon Iberico.
Here in Spain, we are luckily blessed with many things that extend beyond the endless days of warm summer sun, such as fresh, quality, seasonal foods and local wines that are not exuberantly priced. Having lived here over the last 10 years, it’s not hard to fall into a rhythm of eating seasonally and right now in June as the weather is turning warm for the summer, it is the season for Brevas; early figs. There are actually two seasons for figs down here in southern Andalucia meaning that we get a near constant supply all summer long, lucky for me as they have long been one of my favourite fruits. Back in London when I ran my events catering business, figs were always on the menu, I even used to serve these atop Sorren Malt loaf with a wedge of Dolcelatte cheese, delicious!
Brevas, which appear at the beginning of June and Higos, at the end of August, can both be black figs which come from the same tree but there is a difference in taste and timing; Brevas are bigger, sometimes green skinned and a little less sweet than Higos.
Nutritionally, figs are rich in vitamins and minerals and they are also high in fibre making them a healthy addition to salads, smoothies and breakfasts; simply pairing with Greek or natural yogurt makes for a satisfying and delicious start to your day.
Annie B’s Fig and Mozzarella Salad – The Recipe
Quantities are not given here as it really depends on how many you are feeding and whether you use this as a starter or a sharing platter with Jamon and bread. Just know that this is a dish best eaten fresh, not that you will have any leftovers!
- Fresh figs
- Buffala mozzarella
- Pine nuts (not Chinese)
- Fresh salad leaves including rocket if possible
- Sherry vinegar
- Quality EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- Good salt, Maldon etc
- Black pepper
- Black olives for the salad
- Warm fresh bread
- Jamon Iberico
Sherry or Wine Pairing
For me, this dish works perfectly with a chilled Manzanilla or Fino. Equally a crisp, chilled white wine would be a delicious accompaniment.
Shopping for Quality
As always, try to buy best quality products that are available to you in your budget. This is especially true in this case of the EVOO and the mozzarella, I wouldn’t suggest using burrata for this recipe, you want the firmness of good quality buffala mozzarella as a contrast to the softness of the figs. As for the EVOO, I am currently using a delicious first press from last year’s harvest from my friend Maria’s family olive trees here in Vejer.
A Note on Jamon
Always chose Iberico Jamon if your budget allows, this is packed with flavour and literally melts on your tongue. Not only that but the fat in Jamon Iberico is good for you, it is a healthy fat. The oleic acid from the acorns creates good cholesterol, making Jamón Ibérico de Bellota a health food, sought after by gourmands and health freaks alike.
- Roughly slice up the mozzarella and arrange on a platter leaving a hole in the middle for your salad leaves
- Wash and then peel figs if the skin is thick (but this is optional). Scatter over the mozzarella
- Toast pine nuts in a dry frying pan, please watch them, I can’t tell you how many thousands of pine nuts I’ve burnt in the past, they turn very quickly
- Place a good handful of salad leaves in the gap in the middle of the platter
- Dress the entire dish with a good spray* of Sherry vinegar and drizzle the EVOO over this, a crack of black pepper and some good quality salt. I prefer to use flakey sea salt
*I use this wonderful ‘Barbadillo’ brand of Sherry vinegar which comes in a spray bottle which means you get an even, fine mist all over your salad rather than a puddle sitting at the bottom of the bowl. If you can’t find a spray Sherry vinegar, why not make your own be decanting your Sherry vinegar into a thoroughly clean, recycled spray bottle?
Photography by Sarah Weare