Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad

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Ripe figs are nestled in fresh spinach topped with chopped walnuts, prosciutto roses, parmesan fricos, and homemade Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette in this light and elegant salad recipe.

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Food has never been more fun to photograph (or eat) than Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Next add 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1 Tablespoon good maple syrup.

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Add a few dashes each of salt & pepper next, then let ‘er rip until the figs are nice and smooth.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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Once the cheese has turned golden brown, about 2-3 minutes later, gently wiggle your spatula underneath and flip.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Ready for a close-up!

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Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad with Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Vinaigrette from Nourishing Meals

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!

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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. ;)

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Get yours!

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~~~~~

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Comments

  1. Laura V 08.14.2012

    I love your blog! I get so happy every time you post!

  2. Gorgeous – Ithese photos are ART. My only unusual hobby is my blog/food photography… YOU don’t think it’s unusual but many of my friends & family do!! :) I also actually ENJOY hunting down coupons and deal-matching when I make a grocery list… It’s like a fun challenge haha

  3. Kerstin 08.14.2012

    What a gorgeous salad – I want to dive right in!

  4. Tracy 08.14.2012

    I cannot get over the creepy fear of those little bursting seeds being baby fig wasps…no matter how good they look I just cant eat them :( Damn biology classes. This recipe looks almost good enough to make me overcome my fear!!

  5. Kristi Bussell 08.14.2012

    That looks great! Just one question though- say you have a particularly picky family, and prosciutto is not usually on their menu. Is there a good substitute for it?

  6. This is just simply amazing!!!

  7. Christina 08.14.2012

    Watch out! You gettin’ all fancy on us now Iowa Girl…. and I like it :)

  8. Lauren 08.14.2012

    So beautiful! Fresh figs in salads is an unbelievable thing!

  9. Everything! All of it! Oh my goodness, I n.e.e.d. to eat this.

  10. Amy 08.14.2012

    I love your food photography! What kind of camera do you use and how in heavens name are your pictures so picture perfect clear?!?! Do you use a tripod and have tons of light in your kitchen? I’m not a food photographer but love photographing kids and am so inspired by your talent!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.16.2012

      Thanks, Amy! I use a Nikon D3000 and just try and shoot in natural light whenever possible – which is definitely easier in the summer. My pictures totally suffer in the winter when it gets dark at 5!

  11. Kiki 08.15.2012

    Super gorgeous pictures! You are precious.

  12. Wendy 08.15.2012

    I want to faceplant in that salad. So beautiful I wouldn’t want to eat it but then I’d remember what’s in it and eat the whole thing!

  13. Lauren T 08.15.2012

    This is so awesomely unique! I love the frico trick with Parmesan cheese! I’ve never had figs, but since you make them look so good I may just have to try them :)

  14. Rachel 08.15.2012

    I really love the little Parmesan cheese fricos! I love cheese enough to make those… as chips and eat them without any shame. Or dignity.

  15. Deborah 08.15.2012

    Great looking recipe! I am obsessed with collecting recipes in binders and I am addicted to magazines (Health, Womans Day, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Country Living) – I am a nerd at 41! :)

  16. Elly 08.15.2012

    Norwalk, IA.. holler!

  17. Sara 08.15.2012

    I’ve never had figs before, but this salad looks amazing! Definitely going to have to test this recipe soon. :)

  18. Mandy 08.15.2012

    I can’t even believe how amazing that looks. Guh. Need to try ASAP!

  19. Nicole 08.15.2012

    It’s funny that you describe the taste of a fresh fig as floral because that’s exactly what they are! I recently bought a house that came with my very own (large) fig tree.

    It’s been going bonkers and I’ve been scouring books and the internet for recipes for fresh figs. During my research I learned that a fig is the only fruit that is actually an inverted flower. Unlike other fruit-bearing trees it doesn’t flower then bear fruit because the fruit is the flower.

    Just thought I’d share a little fig trivia with you. :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.15.2012

      Uh – love it! Thank you for the info! (And SO jealous about your tree. Have you made fig jam? It’s my fave. :) )

      • Nicole 08.15.2012

        I tried my hand and canning for the first time with fig jam and fig-cherry jam. Both turned out great!

        The best use of figs so far has been fig muffins with honeyed goat cheese filling. Those were awesome. My tree is slowing down so we’re coming to the end of the season. Plus, I keep finding my dog on his hind legs eating directly off the tree.

  20. This looks AMAZING Kristin! That dressing too, wow. I def need to make this before the summer is over!!!

  21. OK you’ve totally convinced me to go try some fresh figs. Hopefully they have them at the farmer’s market here soon!

  22. Kelsi 08.15.2012

    I like the previous comment. Norwalk, Iowa! Thanks for representing us!

  23. Julie 08.15.2012

    beautiful pictures!! You’re inspiring me to step up my photography game…nicely done.

  24. Aimee 08.15.2012

    I just moved into a new apartment. Your food photography has given me ideas for decoration my kitchen with food pictures. However I’m a horrible photographer. Any suggestions where I can get some vibrant food pictures for decoration?

  25. Abby 08.16.2012

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and was really excited when you mentioned you had gone to the Amalfi Coast. My husband and I are going to Rome and the Amalfi Coast at the end of September/early October. I read through all of your posts about your trip and am even more excited to go now!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 08.16.2012

      Oh so jealous!! Where are you staying in each city?

      • Abby 08.16.2012

        I’m not sure yet. My in-laws live in Germany and are figuring out the details of the trip for us since they have been to Rome and the Amalfi coast as well. I’ll let you know once I find out. Any recommendations of places to stay at, eat at, or see (other than what you wrote in your previous posts)?

  26. Addie 08.16.2012

    I just had fig and prosciutto pizza last weekend, love the idea of making it a salad!

  27. […] Salad with Prosciutto Kristin, the mistress of insanely beautiful food photography, brings you this Fig and Frico Prosciutto Salad recipe. Even if you never make this, the pictures are artwork in my book. Source: IowaGirlEats 40 Years […]

  28. Denise 08.18.2012

    I made this for lunch today and it was excellent. Thanks for the great idea. I really liked the dressing and I will use it on other salads throughout the week. It made plenty. Your pictures are excellent. I have to admit my salad was not as pretty as yours LOL. Love your blog.

  29. Louelle 09.30.2012

    Wow, Wonderful salad! I’m salivating, but will have to continue for a while :-( I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday, and figs are out!! Baa haa haa! Your photography is incredibly gorgeous! Thanks Kristin, beautiful post!

  30. […] come but once a year around here. Celebrate and enjoy the short season with Fig & Frico Prosciutto Salad. So elegant. Love this […]

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