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