Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fig, watercress and blue cheese salad with candied walnuts

Hello everyone, I had a kitchen disaster last weekend when my fridge broke down on that very hot Saturday. The fridge repair man came on Monday afternoon and diagnosed....yes, dead. It was the first fridge I had ever bought and nearly sixteen years old so it has given me good service, but really, it would be helpful if they flashed up warning messages like "One week to go!" Of course I had a freezer full of food and quite a few things in the fridge and had to throw it all out. And of course, with the public holiday intervening, my new fridge didn't arrive until Wednesday morning, so it was four very hot days with no way of chilling food! It was a challenge and I'm glad to have the new one in place. Now I'm busy filling it once more!

This week's recipe is one that I made during the week and it was lovely and refreshing. It comes from the December 2009/January 2010 issue of delicious magazine. It's one of those great salads that makes a meal, although of course you could serve it as a salad with other things if you were feeding a few. The walnuts are very easy and taste delicious, probably even better made with butter as in the recipe - I had to use olive oil as I had tossed out my almost melted butter!

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Fig, watercress and blue cheese salad with candied walnuts

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the figs
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3 ripe, fresh figs, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • A handful of seedless red or green grapes, halved
  • 200g blue cheese, sliced

Candied walnuts

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon caynenne pepper (optional; you could sprinkle over normal ground black pepper if you prefer)

What you do:

  1. For the candied walnuts, line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Add the walnuts, sugar and pepper, then stir for 1-2 minutes until the sugar melts and coats the nuts.
  4. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to spread the nuts out on the baking tray. Leave for a few minutes to set.
  5. Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  6. Season the dressing with sea salt and pepper, whisking to combine, then set aside.
  7. Place the figs, cut side up, on a small baking tray.
  8. Sprinkle with the sugar, balsamic vinegar and additional olive oil.
  9. Place the figs under a grill for five minutes or until golden and bubbling. Remove from the grill and set aside.
  10. Arrange the watercress and grapes on a serving platter and top with the grilled figs. Lay slices of cheese over the top, drizzle with the dressing and serve sprinkled with the walnuts.