A Fig of My Imagination

Figs have been on my mind lately. Maybe figs have be popping up in my food obsessed social media feed. Not sure why I’ve been thinking about them. Perhaps it’s some sort of primal reaction to hot summer breezes, or the way the mockingbirds chortle this time of year. I had to find some figs, and was ready to hop in the truck and head to town, when Kiko reminded me there were 4 or 5 fig trees in his father’s garden, loaded with figs. I must have fig ESP.

We drove over the pick a few figs for a lunch salad, and checked on a few other fruit trees while we were there. The oranges are still green and hard, and several months off from ripeness. There are still a few grapefruit left on the trees, but those have been hanging around since February, and are beginning to bake in the near July heat. BTW did you know citrus blooms and is harvested at the same time? Also, oranges and grapefruit can spend months on their trees, holding the perfect ripeness in an exceptionally long harvest window. We used to grow peaches, and those have a harvest window of only hours.

Figs are Delicate Flowers

Figs must be tree ripened, and I beleive commercial figs must be harvested, shipped and sold within a week for best quality. The ranch fig trees will have figs for the next few weeks, so I think I will revisit the grove as the figs ripen, and harvest them for fig jam and chutney. Stay tuned. (FYI figs are amazingly weird inside out flowers, here is a great article by the Huffington Post.

I can’t say our ranch figs are amazing. The ones we picked were not so sweet, but my husband said there is another tree with tiny figs that isn’t quite ripe yet, but has wonderful fruit. Paired with our Home Cured Pork Belly and Home Fermented Buttermilk, there were no complaints when I put them together in this salad.

I will circle back in the next few days, and see if any of the sweeter figs are ripe.  Hopefully the mockingbirds won’t beat me to them.


Fresh Fig on Tree

Lovely deep amethyst against emerald

Ripe fig on a tree


Unripe figs on a tree

Figs can only tree ripen, which makes them very delicate when transporting to the supermarket

Green oranges on a tree

The oranges will be ripe in October, these are about the size of a tennis ball, so 4 months left. It takes about 7 months to grow an orange

Fresh limes

As long as we are here, we picked a few fresh limes. Couldn’t resist

Papaya leaves

Young papaya tree, hopefully papayas soon

Uncooked pork belly pieces

The pieces should be about 3 in./7.5cm long

Ripe figs

Ripe and plump figs are beautiful and attractive. However, never, ever, ever refer to me as ripe and plump. I mean it.

Buttermilk Dill Dressing

Don’t expect a regular  creamy rich buttermilk ranch dressing. This one is straight up buttermilk, and super light.

Pork Belly in a pan

Whew, got it all in the pan. But the pork belly will shrink a bit once the fat renders.

Figs browning in pan with onions

You can brown the figs a bit longer, but I like them plump

Field Greens with Pork Belly Figs Toasted Tortillas and Buttermilk DIll Dressing

The dressing is very light, however it has a cheesy, fermented quality. Excellent with the rich pork belly. Technically, this recipe makes 4 servings, but between us,  my husband and I ate the whole platter.


Field Greens with Pork Belly, Figs, Toasted Tortillas and Buttermilk Dill Dressing

Field Greens with Pork Belly Figs Toasted Tortillas and Buttermilk DIll Dressing

Gorgeous pork belly and light tangy buttermilk dressing pair beautifully with pan grilled fresh figs!

  • Author: Melissa Guerra
  • Prep Time: 2 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Salads
  • Cuisine: Continental



¾ cup buttermilk or yogurt

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ tsp dried dill

Cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste


6 pieces pork belly

Field greens mix

1 small onion, cut into thin rings

6 fresh figs, cut in half

2 corn tortillas, cut into strips


Whisk together the dressing ingredients, and set aside while you assemble the salad. Line a shallow pan with paper towels.

Heat a 9” pan and add the pork belly pieces. Cook slowly over medium low heat until they are crispy and cooked throughout, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the pork belly, and place on paper towels to drain.

Add the onion slices to the hot pan, and brown for 3-5 minutes. Move the onions to one side of the pan, and then add the figs, sliced face side down. Brown the figs for 2 minutes, and then remove the onions and figs to the pan with paper towels to drain.

Add the tortilla strips to the hot pan, and fry for 2 minutes, until crispy. Remove and place on the paper towels.

Keep the cooked items warm until you are ready to serve the salad.

Assemble the salad by placing the field greens on a platter, and arranging the pork belly, onions, figs, and tortilla strips on top. Pour the dressing over and serve immediately.


Pouring off most of the pork belly drippings into a heat proof bowl before frying the tortilla strips helps keep them crispy and light. Only confident chefs should pour hot grease out of a pan as there is a high potential for danger.

Also, Teflon pans are not recommended if you want crispy, well browned results. Select a cast iron or stainless steel pan.

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