Minced beets in a fig, chili and balsamic dressing, served in an endive leaf; my offering in The Great American Recipe Finale.
The Season Of Beets And Figs
Beets, popping their little heads out from the dirt, whispering ‘pick me, pick me.’ Figs laying heavily on the branches of my fig trees. All waiting to become the stars in a television cooking program!
Seasonal produce inspires more newly created recipes, for me, than just about anything else inspires my cooking.
Salad For A Finale
It’s the finales in a television cooking competition. If I was to make it to the finales, I wanted to showcase various aspects of figs and call it my Fig Finale.
On a very complex main course of fish roasted inside of a fig leaf, I wanted to showcase a dark and earthy seasonal beet salad alongside of the fish.
Creating a beet salad, tossed in a chili spiced fig dressing, came to mind first. Then the to serve it inside of an endive leaf was exactly what the, already whimsical, fish and fig leaf needed to wow the judges.
What Is Endive?
Endive leaves are perfectly shaped to scoop into dips or place something inside of. The leaves are firm and hold their shape.
The Mediterranean plant is slightly bitter yet earthy. Not like a sweet, gentle tasting bib lettuce.
Radicchio, escarole, frisee and endive each are from the same family and have similar flavors to each other.
While some recipes call for blanching the already tiny leaf, I prefer to maintain their shape and serve them uncooked.
Sweet Or Savory Figs
Once figs become ripe they are so sweet and juicy. A favorite flavor combination of mine, is to blend sweet with both heat and bitter, tart or salty.
Fig dressing for this salad, is all of the umami flavors above. Fresh figs, quickly simmered with onions, balsamic, a hot little chili and a sprinkle of sugar make for a dress that is everything I wanted with these beets.
How To Make This Showstopper Salad
Roasting the beets in their skin, wrapped in parchment paper or foil, is the first step to this salad. This can be done a day in advance or just before assembling the salad.
The roasted beets get minced into tiny slices I like to call a confetti cut. A tender stalk of celery heart adds freshness to the earthy beets and a little crunch.
The figs are also cooked but only need a brief simmer along with vinegar, sugar, onions and the chili pepper. Simmered figs are then pureed and mixed with the minced beets and celery.
Beet salad is now dressed and ready for serving inside the endive leaves or refrigerated for a little later.
- Small sauce pan
- Baking tray
- Parchment paper or foil to roast the beets
- Vegetable peeler
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Small mixing bowl
- Small spoon
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Stovetop or burner and Oven
- Celery heart
- Red onion
- Chili pepper
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Mascarpone – optional
Beet and Endive Salad with Fig DressingCourse: Salads and VeggiesCuisine: Mediterranean
Minced beets in a fig, chili and balsamic dressing, served in an endive leaf.
Beetroots – 1 cup, cooked
Celery heart – 1 stalk
Red onion – 1 tbsp, minced
Chili pepper – 1 small
Balsamic vinegar – 4 tsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Figs – 4
Salt – to taste
Endive – 12 leaves
Mascarpone – optional
- Preheat oven to 400
- Wrap beets in parchment paper or foil and roast until tender, depending on their size. Cool inside the wrapping. Peel.
- Beets get cut into confetti size pieces, about 1/4 inch pieces. Do the same with the celery. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, place diced figs, sugar, vinegar, diced chili, diced onion and salt. Simmer on low until the figs and onions soften, about 5 minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil and puree. Fold the fig dressing into the chopped beets and celery.
- Separate the endive leaves. With a small spoon, place a dollop of the beet salad in each leaf. If using mascarpone, place a tiny drop of mascarpone on the tops. Serve.