Monday morning began slowly, as they often do. It was the sort of weekend that could have used an additional day to recover but I had days of work to catch up with only a single day to make that happen. But there I sat, at my desk, motionless.
“Seeking inspiration,” I began to type. No. “In need of a good dose of inspiration.” Nope.
I couldn’t even manage to write a tweet worthy of posting in order to ask for a bit of something, anything, that might encourage me to start working.
My entire body longed for the sort of internal pick-me-up that would set me on the course for an efficient day and one that would flood my weary body with the creative energy I need to thrive. Instead I opened my inbox and began sorting through the sixty unread emails, one by one.
Later that day I found myself at the grocery store. I hadn’t wanted to go but I stepped in through the sliding doors and smelled basil, sweet and softly liquorice scented. Two aisles were just for stone fruits with four different varieties of Pluots and yet another called an Aprium. I smelled each variety and put a few of each into a brown paper bag with no plans or recipe in mind, I just needed to have them. Suddenly I was reeling with ideas for dinner and many meals beyond that.
I bought 5 ears of sweet corn for the Ashley in February who will long for the wooden crate in the market to be filled with the vibrant green covered corn complete with stringy husks and variegated sweet kernels.
I knew the tomatoes would make me weak with their flesh in shades of reds, oranges, yellows and greens. It was the purple tinted cherry tomatoes that I grabbed along with a few heavy heirlooms that ended up as yesterday’s lunch on garlic-rubbed and toasted bread.
From two aisles over I spotted the figs. They are expensive, those figs, and I’ve fallen for their charm before while trying to relive the taste of the ones I plucked off the tree on some abandoned road in Italy. Or the sweet, seedy flesh of those that the farmers in pickup trucks would deliver to Spago. But most the time I end up with a sad representation of those dreamy figs and regretting the $5 I spent on a small basket of them. Not this time. In order to lure those of us who get soft at the sight of their ruby interior made even more shocking next to their chartreuse skin, there were a few whose flesh had been cut into. I grabbed a basket then headed straight for the melons with plans to replicate a salad I hadn’t stopped thinking since the days I’d enjoyed it.
I couldn’t remember it exactly so did my best to make a vinaigrette bright with lemon and just creamy enough to feel indulgent. Frankly, I didn’t rely too heavily on the vinaigrette knowing that it just needed to not out-do the produce that it would cover. Like make-up well done, it only needed to enhance what was already stunning. Just when I thought I was ready to start thinking about squash, apples and cool evenings I find these figs and want to hold on to summer until I’ve had my fill.
Fig and Melon Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette
inspired by a similar salad I enjoyed at Cafe Presse in Seattle
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1 tsp champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Salt and lots of pepper
1/2 head red lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 small tuscan melon peeled, seeded and cubed or sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
5-7 fresh, ripe figs quartered
Combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings remembering that the melon and figs are both sweet so you want the vinaigrette to be quite bright and pop-y.
Toss the melon, lettuce and red onion in a bowl along with the vinaigrette.
Put the dressed greens on a platter and finish with the fresh figs along with some crumbled feta.
Prosciutto Sandwich with Arugula and White Truffle
inspired by a sandwich from Delaurenti at Pike Place Market
scant 1/2 pound prosciutto
3 cups arugula
white truffle oil
Cut the baguette and spread butter on both sides of the bread. Fill the sandwich with the prosciutto.
In a small bowl drizzle the arugula with just a bit of white truffle oil. I prefer the truffle flavor to be soft and subtle so I only added about 10 small drops of oil.
Fill the sandwich with the arugula. Slice the baguette into smaller portions and serve with the fig and melon salad.
Oh, you have just captured summer for me! I have been on that same hunt for honey-sweet figs ever since I tasted my first one fresh from the tree that my mom and dad grew on Vancouver Island. They were filled and dripping with a glorious rosy nectar and glistening flesh inside that we had to fight the bees for. I’ve never found any as luscious and sweet since. My hunt continues. Your recipe filled the void for a bit! Thank you.
They would have to be the most amazing looking figs I’ve ever seen! So glossy and red and delicious looking…
Those figs look beautiful.
And that February wanting of fresh corn—you described it perfectly.
Beautiful photos of amazing food!! I love the recipes. I’m obsessed with Cafe Presse.
This is a dreamy salad. Love all the flavors and textures 🙂
It’s such a joy when one finds perfect figs! This is such a beautiful salad. I guess I have to go fig hunting! Thank you for this great and inspiring recipe.
Such a lovely ode to the inspiration that can come from the smell or sight of a favourite ingredient. Melon and fig sounds like a winning combination especially with the brightness of the dressing.
Ashley, thank you so much for this colorful meal!! I second Kiran, it’s a dreamy salad!! I just made it today for lunch and my husband and I both loved it; a simple, yet high impact dish! Exactly what I needed in my vacation.
Could you possibly suggest what kind of figs did you use for this recipe?
I’m now in the South of France, local markets bring a huge variety of fresh produce every day. I used for the salad two local sorts: the dark violet figs (very intense in terms of taste), and the “white” ones – light green color of skin and flesh, which were also very delicate. So, in my version of the salad, I could say the flavor of the ripe violet figs dominated the dish.
Have a great day!
PS. For the dressing, I used the lemon-flavored olive oil of Olivier and Co (their shop is just in front of my home, so it’s hard to overlook the oil specialities there:-))).
Aww so pretty! Loving this salad 🙂
Oh my. I have a soft spot for figs. This looks absolutely incredible!
This salad sounds just amazing for late summer! I usually just eat my figs fresh out of hand, but I think I’m going to have to exercise my willpower and toss them with some greens soon…
You capture the magic of figs in this post. I have been making fig preserves, but have a few left over. I know what we will be having for dinner! Thanks for the inspiration!
It looks great. Thank you for sharing
talk about fusing great and fresh flavours! this looks wonderful!
That looks absolutely delicious!! definitely going to try. I’d love you to have a look at this and tell me what you think? http://www.pinkroller.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/super-sandwich-saturday.html
Oh my goodness, and to think I passed up figs at the produce stand yesterday. I’m going to go back and get some!
Thanks for inspiring me to get out and procure some figs!
Had the melon, bought the figs, took the salad to the church picnic today. My figs weren’t as colorful as yours, but the salad was beautiful and delicious, and it was gone in no time! Will definitely make this again, it was exquisite!
Thank you for this refreshing recipe. I’ve been looking for a new salad to try…I can’t wait to make this!
Nic salad… interesting… delicious
i know that feeling all to well. Makes the creative days so much sweeter. I am a fig fan myself but agree the fantastic ones are hard to find. Yours look so perfect, they are just such unique fruits. That flesh! Of course you captured them beautifully.
My neighbor has a good-lookin’ fig tree in her back yard. She’s been offering me some.. now I know what to make one ’em!
*with ’em! haha Ahhh… Mondays…
I’ll be thinking about figs all day! Your images are simply a delicious treat for the eyes!
Inspiration finds us in such great ways! I love going to the store and just let the sights and smells of the food around me do the trick.
Gorgeous salad too btw. I want to get my hands on some more figs just to give it a try 🙂
This salad looks amazing. The pictures…WOW!! I am going to have to purchase figs tomorrow to make this salad! Have you tried making a fig jam?
I am with you, falling hard for figs every time! And today, I, too, am dreading a trip to the grocery store. I hope I find similar inspiration. Love your everyday musings in this post.
Glad you found your inspiration, Ashley. It’s so hard to come by sometimes. Those figs are just begging to be photographed!
Both figs and melons go so well with prosciutto, adding them both to a salad would be lovely…i will be adding prosciutto to this of course.
Salad is very suitable for our life. I like fresh salad very much.
What a great end of summer recipe! The combination seems so refreshing… I like J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats ‘s idea to add prosciutto.
Gorgeous! It’s almost too pretty to eat!
I want to shop at your grocery store! It sounds like a food lover’s paradise. The fig salad is perfect too.
This salad is great! I just cooked and we tried it.In addition, you make great photo 🙂
Your photos are so beautiful, and this salad looks delicious! I look forward to reading more posts.
Where did you find those figs??? I haven’t found any as tasty looking this year here in Seattle. I just had a taste of that salad at Caffe Presse this week and have been dreaming of it since. What a treat to find a variation here. Thanks!
those figs just look splendid.
Perfect recipe! I was just talking about something very similar to do for a party this weekend and now I’ve found it. Thanks!
I love the ingredients…great idea. Can’t wait to give it a try!