Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Roasted Beets & Balsamic-Sauteed Figs On Arugula With Toasted Walnuts

A recent addition to my growing cookbook collection, The Girl & The Fig by Sondra Bernstein, is packed with mouth-watering recipes, most of which are or have been served up in her Sonoma restaurant of the same name. Although I've had this book since early September, I confess that until now I hadn't tried any of the recipes, mostly because many of them involve the use of sauces and other condiments that you would need to make ahead of time to have on hand before beginning the recipe you desire. I'm rarely that organized.

In perusing my cookbooks for Thanksgiving dinner inspiration, I began leafing through this book again and came across a salad recipe that uses roasted beets and Black Mission figs. The recipe was simple and straightforward, no pre-made sauces required, so I tried it. In fact it was a bit too simple so of course I changed it, morphing it into what I think is a delicious amuse bouche* that I will present to our Thanksgiving guests as they sit down to our table.

Roasted Beets & Balsamic Sauteed Figs on Arugula with Toasted Walnuts
Inspired by The Girl & The Fig Cookbook by Sondra Bernstein

1-2 red beets or any color beets of your choosing
1 basket Black Mission figs (at least 12 or more figs)
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
Fresh arugula leaves, preferrably organic
1-2 toasted walnuts**, minced

Wash the beets and cut the leaf stalks to with 1/4-inch of the tops of the beet. Trim the root ends.
Wrap the beets individually in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast in a 375 oven for 1 hour or until the beets can easily be pierced with a fork.
When done, remove beets from the oven, open the foil packets and allow them to cool to room temperature.
When cooled, peel the beets completely and cut into very small dice, about 1/4 inch. Set aside.

Wash and dry the figs, remove the stems and cut in half stem to end.
Melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium low heat.
When the butter is melted, add the balsamic vinegar and turn the heat to low.
Add the figs to the skillet, cut side down and gently saute until golden brown. Shake the skillet from time to time so the figs don't stick to the bottom. Watch the heat so neither the figs nor the sauce burns.
When the figs are golden on the cut side, flip them over, shaking the pan to cover the figs with the sugar-vinegar sauce and saute for about 1 minute more.
Immediately remove from the heat and cool in the pan. When cool enough to handle, cut the figs into small dice, about 1/4 inch. Reserve the sauce.

To assemble:
Combine the diced beets, figs and pan sauce and mix gently.
Cut at least 12 arugula leaves so that you have about 2 square inches of leaf, discarding the stem ends or reserving them for another use.
Place a scant tablespoon of the beet-fig mixture on each arugula leaf, sprinkle with a few toasted, minced walnuts* and arrange each one on a tiny plate for each of your guests to enjoy.
Don't overcrowd the arugula as the amuse* is meant to be eaten by wrapping the leaf around the beet mixture and popping it into your very amused mouth.

* Small bite, or cook's offering, to "amuse the mouth".
** Walnuts can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Toasted pecans may be used instead. Be sure to mince them.


  1. you have really "out cooked" yourself with this dish... this is a beautiful fusion of veggies and fruits .... ! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh the colors!

    What a very autumnal and earthy dish this is — I would pair it with Malbec, too!

    Good job, Christine!

  3. I don't even usually like beets and that looks fantastic!!! Yummy, gimme gimme!

  4. i am trying this and adding caramelized red onion and pine nuts just cause thats what i have...i cannot wait!!!

  5. Thanks Morta. Riff away!!

    And to my blogger friends above, I'm so sorry that I did not respond to your comments way beck in 2006. I should be flogged!
    You know I love you all despite my transgression!


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