Food has never been more fun to photograph (or eat) than Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette!
I’m not sure when I started getting geeky about food photography, which I realize ranks right up there with collecting rubber stamps and having pogo-sticking competitions with your Mom in terms of
nerdy niche hobbies (both of which I cough, actually did growing up,) but if getting giddy about the fuchsia flesh of mission figs against the kelly green of fresh chopped spinach, sunny yellow of pan-fried Parmesan cheese, and pink and white stripes of sliced prosciutto is wrong, I don’t want to be right!
While I love finding new and fun ways to style dishes – using a crumpled paper bag for a placemat, and wedge of parmesan cheese to hide a biscotti riding cartoon on an appetizer plate for instance – sometimes it’s best to let the ingredients speak for themselves.
There’s not a whole lot you have to do to make Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette pop right off the plate. Wherever and whoever you serve this to will be totally wowed!
Succulent figs are nestled in fresh chopped spinach then topped with chopped walnuts, prosciutto roses, parmesan fricos – cheese crisps, y’all – and homemade Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette in this light summer salad that’s easy, elegant, and just as good as it looks. Obsession alert!
Both the salad and vinaigrette revolve around these babies – Black Mission Figs. Before Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods came to town I don’t ever remember seeing fresh figs in the grocery store, and it was actually Ben’s and my trip to the Amalfi Coast, where figs grew like purple raindrops over the entire town, when I was able to sink my teeth into a juicy fresh fig for the very first time. It was love at first bite.
The taste and texture of a fresh fig is hard to describe, but if I had to give it a go I’d say the texture is like a very soft apricot with little seeds inside that pop when you chew (one of my favorite parts) while the taste is mildly sweet and almost floral. Kind of a mix between a peach and strawberry. Figs are in season right now which means they are at the height of their deliciousness at this very moment!
Start the dish by making the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette that’s drizzled over the finished salad. This stuff is the ‘ish – just sayin’. First toss 3 quartered figs into a food processor or blender.
Next add 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 Tablespoon good maple syrup.
Add a few dashes each of salt & pepper next, then let ‘er rip until the figs are nice and smooth.
Scrape the sides down, then turn the machine back on while slowly drizzling in 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Use the best stuff you’ve got!
The resulting vinaigrette is silky smooth and THICK! You know how pre-bottled salad dressing stays together? Thickening agents. Know how this homemade vinaigrette stays together? Fresh figs. FTW!
K. With the dressing done, we move onto zee Fricos next, which will provide a nice crunch in the salad. Frico is BA code for crispy, pan-fried Parmesan cheese that look super fancy, but only you and I will know that they’re actually super easy to make.
Start by grating 1-1/2 cups parmesan cheese on the small side of a box grater (you could probably get away with using the pre-shredded stuff – just don’t use the powdery stuff) then spoon 2 Tablespoons onto a skillet set over medium heat. Spread the cheese into a circle, not too thinly, and let it start to melt. (I know, I know – I hate my nasty skillet, too!)
When the cheese starts to bubble, grab a thin spatula and scrape the pile into a nice uniform circle. Or not. I’m just a tad Type-A like that.
Once the cheese has turned golden brown, about 2-3 minutes later, gently wiggle your spatula underneath and flip.
Cook for another 30 seconds or so on the other side, then remove to a piece of waxed paper to cool and crisp up. That’s it!
All that’s left to do now is assemble the salad. Place chopped spinach on a plate then top with fresh figs, chopped walnuts, the cooled Fricos, and tons of prosciutto.
I love La Quercia Prosciutto made locally here in town (and used in fine dining establishments all over the country – so proud!) I just tear each slice in two, then roll them to create a little rosette shape, which looks great for presentation.
Ready for a close-up!
Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette
Vinaigrette from Nourishing Meals
10-12oz (about 12 cups) spinach, chopped
1 carton fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
4oz sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette (makes 1/2 cup):
3 fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon good maple syrup
salt & pepper
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- For the Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette: combine figs, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender then process until smooth. Scrape down the sides, then slowly stream in extra virgin olive oil while processing. Set aside.
- For the Parmesan Fricos: Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spoon 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese into a mound and spread into a circle, not too thin. Using a thin spatula, scrape cheese into a uniform circle while melting. When cheese is golden brown on top, gently wiggle the spatula underneath, then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove to a piece of wax paper to cool. Continue with the remaining cheese.
- Assemble the salads. Divide chopped spinach amongst four plates then top evenly with remaining figs cut into quarters, and walnuts. Tear each prosciutto slice in two then curl and place on top. Top salad with cooled fricos and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This salad is beyond delicious. If you’ve ever had any doubt about the combo of sweet fruit and salty prosciutto – let this dish change your mind. I could eat it all day!
The fig vinaigrette, which is both sweet and tangy, is Heaven when drizzled on the cheesy, smokey-tasting parmesan fricos. They crunch like potato chips and are so fantastic. Tell everyone they took hours to make too, it’ll be our little secret.
Do you have any unusual or silly hobbies?