- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fresh figs have a delicate, sweet taste and subtle perfumed aroma that make the fruit a delicious snack and a welcome addition to recipes.

This time of year, when fresh figs are available in supermarkets and specialty produce stores, you can take advantage of this treat.

Although figs are a minor harvest compared with apples or pears, growers often bring one or more varieties to market. You’re most likely to see Mission figs, which can be identified by their dull purple-black skin, small seeds and creamy light-colored flesh. This fig is excellent eaten plain or drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar.

Calimyrna figs, which are large and pale green with a light flesh, make an appearance in the summer, though you may be able to find some through early fall. Kadota figs, which are small, thick-skinned and yellow, are often canned.

As appealing as fresh figs are, they’re doubly good when paired with dried figs, which have an intensely sweet flavor.

In today’s recipe, dried Mission figs and fresh Mission figs offer contrasting textures but the same delightful fruit flavor. If you can’t find fresh figs for this dish, do without or substitute one small ripe diced pear.

Prosciutto and fig salad

4 dried Mission figs

5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, divided

1 teaspoon honey

2½ tablespoons mild-tasting olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 cups washed mixed salad greens including arugula

2 ounces sliced prosciutto

4 fresh Mission figs, sliced in half

Finely chop dried figs. Place in a small pot with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes or until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool.

Place dried figs and any remaining balsamic vinegar from the pot in a bowl. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar, honey, oil, salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside.

Arrange greens on a serving platter. Arrange prosciutto over greens. Arrange figs on greens. Drizzle salad with dressing or serve on the side. Makes 2 servings.

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