Friday, July 18, 2014

Za'atar Broiled Figs with Pecans + Goat Cheese Honey Ice Cream


Last month, I had the good fortune to sit on a panel of food bloggers and photographers with a couple of top-shelf ladies: Phi of Princess Tofu and Kimberly of The Year in Food. Kimberly had just received a copy of her new book, Vibrant Food, and we got a sneak preview. Once I started leafing through it, I couldn't stop. 


I've written a full review of the book for Blikki, a fabulous online health and well-being magazine, which will come out in August. I had fun writing my first official cookbook review, and particularly getting to spend so much time with Kimberly's inspiring recipes and images. I'll post the link when the issue comes out, but for now I wanted to share a favorite recipe from the book: Broiled Figs with Za'atar and Pecans which I paired with a goat cheese honey ice cream.


Figs have a first small harvest in the late spring, and now they're just starting to tumble into season in earnest. Brown Turkeys tend to be juicy and sweet, Black Missions are a bit firmer, with deep purple flesh, and the green-skinned varieties are so pretty with their shocking pink insides. Any variety would be excellent here. 


The figs are simply sliced in half, drizzled with honey, broiled for a bit, then sprinkled with za'atar and pecans, and broiled again. The honey and cooking make this a fine treatment for figs that are slightly under-ripe, as all will become softened and sweet. Figs that are ripe yet still firm enough to hold their shape are ideal. 


Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend usually made from sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac, adds an unexpected savory hit. I had some organic sumac sent to me by Spicely which I mixed with white sesame seeds and some lemon thyme that I've managed to keep alive in my window box. (I'm looking for more ways to use sumac, so if you have any recipes you like, chime in in the comments below.)


The savory-sweet figs could swing either way: on a salad, as part of a cheese course, or over ice cream for dessert. I especially love the honeyed fig juices that collect in the bottom of the pan.


I can't think of figs without thinking also of goat cheese, so I whipped up an ice cream sweetened with honey. I love the way the dessert turned out; like a cheese plate in an uncommon form.


I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of Vibrant Foods. Other recipes I have my eye on are:
-Yogurt Paprika Chicken with Lemon – Kimberly's take on Chicken Tikka topped with juice from roasted lemons
-Rhubarb Compote with Cacao Nibs, sweetened with honey and topped with crème fraîche
-Tomato Fennel Soup with Polenta Croutons
-Millet-Stuffed Peppers with Tomatillo Salsa
-Apple Sage Walnut Bread – a not-too-sweet snacking cake that happens to be gluten-free and whole grain


And I can't stop dreaming of the Pimm's Cup that I made last week, gussied up with sliced strawberries, cucumber, and mint. Mmm...


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Gettin' Figgy With It

One year ago:
Multi-Grain Sandwich Bread

Broiled Figs with Za'atar and Pecans

From Vibrant Food by Kimberly Hasselbrink, reprinted with permission

Kimberly says that you can use a store-bought za'atar if you can't find sumac, a dried berry native to the Middle East. The recipe calls for dried thyme; I used about 1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme since I had it on hand, and I thought it worked well.

Serves 4-6

1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon dried (or fresh) thyme
1 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup raw, chopped pecans
12 large fresh figs, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup honey
vanilla ice cream, fromage blanc, or goat cheese honey ice cream, for serving

Preheat the broiler.

To make the za'atar, combine the sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, and salt in a bowl. Toss with the pecans and set aside.

Place the figs cut side up in a small roasting pan. Using a small spoon, carefully drizzle the honey over the figs. Broil 6 inches from the heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the broiler and sprinkle the za'atar mix over the figs. Return to the broiler for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the pecans are toasted.

Allow the figs to cool for a couple of minutes. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or fromage blanc (or goat cheese honey ice cream) and a little of the remaining honey drizzled on top.

30 comments:

  1. absolutely gorgeous! i love the idea of this combination! must track down some figs now...

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  2. Stunning in every shape and form. Plus, what a killer combo of flavors!

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  3. i dont think you can ever go wrong with sweet figs and ice cream.. love the flavour combination. definitely recreating this in my kitchen. thanks for the idea!

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    1. Awesome!! Please let me know how you like it. :)

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  4. This is too much!!! Za'atar, figs, goat's cheese ice cream...I think you've made my ideal dessert. Beautiful photos to boot. x

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    1. Thanks, Tamsin! We must have similar tastes because this is kind of my ideal dessert, too. :)

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  5. I've never had a fresh fig (whether broiled or not) in my whole life!! So weird..I think i'll just make this one my first!

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    1. Figs are so good when they're fresh! I had trouble saving any for this dish, they've been so good lately. I hope you get to try one soon!

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  6. Sumac! I love it. I use it in everything. It's a lemony-paprika flavor - how can you go wrong? I use it on Hummus, in Mexican rice, in soups, with Chorizo dishes, on fish, and I had never thought of using it on fruit, but it makes a lot of sense! This looks divine. Even the things I wouldn't eat look great in your pictures. :) I wish you lived next door so I could help you eat up your leftovers.

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    1. I love those suggestions - thank you, Heather!! I can always use help eating leftovers, so c'mon over. :)

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  7. Beautiful photos, will try this one out once I locate some figs... Ottolenghi cooks with sumac alot, he has a great salad with fennel and sumac I think

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    1. Ooh, I need to get my hands on the Ottolenghi books. I'm a little bit scared of how far I'll get sucked into them, which is why I've resisted thus far. Fennel sumac salad may be the tipping point, though. ;)

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  8. OMG!!!! Alanna, your drizzle shot of honey over figs are such beautiful photographs (although I love all photos here.). I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post so much, and I, too, am such a big fan of the book.

    P.S. I was waiting for your post, and this did not disappoint. :)

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    1. Ohhhh, thank you Pang!! You are the sweetest. :D

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  9. I would have never thought of putting zaatar with fruit! This looks amazing. I'm hoping we get some good figs here in Minnesota, I will be sure to try this if so. And as always - stunnnnnning pics.

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    1. Totally! I thought my brain would explode the first time I saw that recipe. Thanks so much for the kind words, friend. Crossing my fingers for the figs in your town.

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  10. I just received a copy of Vibrant Food and can't tear myself away. And, I just happen to have a small jar of homemade za'atar, so I'm all set to make this recipe, your photos are always brilliant!

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    1. Oh that's awesome! I hope you love the figs as much as we do and I can't wait to see what you make from the book. :)

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  11. What a gorgeous dessert, I love the honeyed figs!

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  12. Such a delicious combination! I love the way you've cooked the figs, I can just imagine how good they'd taste :)

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    1. Thanks, Lilli! I love the recipe, too - Kimberly is the best. :)

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  13. Figs, pecan, and goat cheese. And icecream. And could this possibly get any better or more beautiful? No, I think not! Wonderful work Alanna!

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    1. Thanks, Monet! These are a bunch of my favorite things, too. So glad you like them as well. :)

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  14. Man, this just sounds absolutely perfect. What a great idea to put za'atar on figs!

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    1. Thanks, Ileana! I know - Kimberly's a genius. :)

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  15. Okay, so I really want to hang with you Ladies the next time! :D
    Fabulous photos + exquisite recipe...and goat cheese ice cream!! *squee* Congrats on the magazine review! xo

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    1. Oh yes please! Do you live around San Francisco?! Thank you so much for the kind words and congratulations, Valerie! :)

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Nice comments make me warm and fuzzy!