Taste Italy with this in­spired fig and goat cheese combo

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART -

I love to visit Italy. But to keep the ex­penses in check, I ei­ther rent a small apart­ment far away from the tourist ar­eas or beg rel­a­tives for a room.

While in Venice re­cently, my daugh­ter’s friend Marta rec­om­mended we try a restau­rant called La Zucca — “The Pump­kin” in Ital­ian. It’s next to a small canal so you can sip on a Spritz while watch­ing the gon­do­las pass by. Some­times there’s a singer aboard ser­e­nad­ing a cou­ple, which is al­ways a treat.

Any­way, La Zucca changes its menu ev­ery­day, and lucky for me they were serv­ing fresh figs with herbed goat cheese when I went. I have a small fig tree back home that’s about ready to pick, so I was ea­ger to try their ver­sion. This dish makes for an ex­cel­lent ap­pe­tizer, and while I couldn’t get the ex­act recipe from the chef, here is my ver­sion.

Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese Makes 2 small ap­pe­tiz­ers Hand­ful of fresh pars­ley leaves, stems re­moved, leaves washed and pat­ted dry

3 to 4 ta­ble­spoons ex­tra vir­gin olive oil ta­ble salt ( to taste) 4 fresh figs, gen­tly rinsed and pat­ted dry, score the tops like a cross but don’t cut the whole way through ( if you use your fa­vorite fruit, the se­cret is it must be dead ripe so it melts into your mouth when you eat it)

3 to 4 ounces goat cheese (or you could use more de­pend­ing how much you like it)

pinch of fresh or dry thyme (ev­ery­thing needs to be finely chopped)

In a food pro­ces­sor take three- fourths of the pars­ley and the olive oil and pulse un­til the leaves are tiny lit­tle bits. Add a lit­tle salt to taste. Set aside. Next, finely chop the re­main­ing one- fourth of the pars­ley. Do your best to make it very small. If you want to make life easy, you can just pulse all the pars­ley with the olive oil ( that’s to­tally fine).

Now, in a clean bowl, com­bine the goat cheese, thyme and the finely minced pars­ley. ( If you pre­pared it all in oil, just scoop out the pars­ley and not that much oil.) Mix the herbs with the goat cheese un­til it’s all well blended. You can cer­tainly add in other fla­vors you like.

To serve, place the figs on a clean plate and evenly di­vide up the goat cheese mix­ture into the cen­ter of the fig. Driz­zle it all with the pars­ley oil. Dec­o­rate the plate with other fresh herbs and serve im­me­di­ately.

Cook­ing at Home is a weekly col­umn where Re­becca dishes on what she’s been mak­ing.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF RE­BECCA BENT

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