One of the truly nice things about visiting my family each year is that we often cook together. We take turns making dinner and showing off dishes we've learned in the year since we last met.
It can get competitive. Some family members have even been known to cheat (ahem.....you know who you are) and research what foods are commonly available in our destination and bring recipes from home.
It's not hard to figure out that I was born to a family of foodies. Fortunately all of us like fresh whole foods and are willing to try different styles of cooking so the meals are both fantastic and memorable. Every year I learn new dishes.
We often reminisce about meals from years past....Steve's mushroom risotto in France. Becky & Pete's grilled tomatoes in Italy. Mal's mussels in wine sauce in coastal U.K. In all locations my Uncle Tom produces home-made bread with assistance from my young niece and nephew.
More than good meals the cooking is a connection between us all. Regardless of age, gender, country of residence, or dietary preference we all like both the creative process of cooking and the joy of nurturing others with good healthy food. After all "Food is love you can eat". So if you really love someone you better feed them something that is tasty AND good for them.
My aunt made this simple but lovely salad this year. It takes minutes to make. The ingredients are available in most grocery stores. For Trent Hills locals Sharpe's in Campbellford has the figs, chèvre, arugula as well as the rest of the list. For those that need to keep track of carbohydrate intake - fresh figs are a lighter carb & sugar load than dried figs.
Warm Fresh Figs with Walnuts & Chèvre:
6 fresh figs sliced in half widthways
Extra virgin olive oil
3 oz walnuts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Mixture of field greens
3 oz of chèvre (goats cheese)
salt & pepper
Preheat your oven to 425F. Put the figs on a baking tray drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper to your liking. Roast for 10 minutes until the figs are glistening and slightly soft. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
When the figs are out of the oven put the walnuts in on another cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
Pour the juices from the fig tray into a small bowl, add a little olive oil & the lemon juice and mix.
Place the field greens & arugula on separate salad plates or one big platter. Top with figs. Crumble the chevre over the surface and sprinkle on the walnuts. Top with the lemon juice dressing & serve.
Have this salad with a great soup, steamed mussels or as a side dish to fish, roast chicken, or meat.