Goat Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Figs

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Two important announcements: It's fig season! I moved to Detroit this summer! Wait, what? You read that right. I'll get back to the figs in just a minute. It feels a bit late to formally reveal this to my blog readers, but for those of you who hadn't seen the updates on social media, yes - the kids and I are officially living in Michigan! After five and a half years in Haymarket, Virginia, it was time for a change in scenery and some really great business opportunities made it possible for me to take a gigantic leap forward. As most of you know, a big part of my Kitchenista Diaries journey was moving back home due to a job loss in 2013. After the birth of my daughter the following year, I monetized my blog and started exploring freelance culinary opportunities. Needless to say, self-employment turned out to be a long, challenging road with lots of unexpected twists and turns. I've shared many of those ups and downs in my digital cookbooks over the years. Fast forward to 2019, when a long-time client brought me on his team to develop recipes for his next restaurant in Detroit! I'm also back to working part-time as a personal chef for his family, and as soon as I get my bearings around this city I'll be taking on dinner party catering and hopefully some ticketed events again. Meanwhile, I'm able to maintain all of my digital work under the Kitchenista brand. I'm not even going to apologize for tooting my own horn here: I'm really proud of myself for sticking things out and getting back on my feet without giving up on my culinary dreams, no matter how long it took. It feels amazing to have a place to call my own again, plus the house I found is a major upgrade from my past apartments. I was afraid I'd have to compromise on the kitchen but it's a dream come true. Even got my gas stove and oven!

What does all this have to do with figs? Not much, but it felt weird returning to the blog without mentioning the big move! If there's one reason I'm excited about having my own place again, it's the ability to entertain. I'm already itching to throw a dinner party once my first floor is reasonably furnished and presentable for company.  Figs make absolutely perfect appetizers for adult crowds. They feel fancy and special, even without much adornment. Figs come into season for a hot minute in the early summer, and for a longer season that runs from the late summer through early fall. If you're lucky enough to find them fresh at the grocery store, look for ripe figs that give a little when gently pressed. Avoid figs that are too firm, indicating they're underripe, and those that are weeping, moldy, overly bruised, or otherwise past their prime. Make sure you plan to enjoy figs within a day or two of purchase as they're extremely perishable. You can leave them out on the counter at room temperature. Storing in the fridge is not really recommended as it dulls the flavor, but if you must hold on to your figs for more than a couple days refrigeration can help.

Sliced figs make a wonderful accent to any cheese board, served alongside honey and nuts. They pair especially well with bleu cheese but also with soft cheeses like ricotta, brie, and goat cheese. I'm a goat cheese fanatic, so it wasn't hard to choose a direction for this dish. It simply pulls all three elements into one glorious bite. I pan-seared the figs first because I love the way it develops a sweet, caramelized crust and turns the insides jammy, which also warms the goat cheese. But if you have super ripe, sweet figs already, you could skip that step and serve them raw. Any variety of figs will work here. The recipe is incredibly simple, so let's get to it.

Goat Cheese and Walnut Stuffed Figs

1/4 cup shelled walnuts
2 tbsp butter
6 ripe figs, sliced in half from stem to bottom.
4 oz softened goat cheese
2 tbsp honey
Pinch of cracked black pepper

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 6
Special Equipment: Nonstick skillet

Over medium high heat, toast the walnuts in your skillet for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until warm and fragrant. Transfer the walnuts to a cutting board and once cooled, chop.

Add butter to the hot skillet and once melted and sizzling, add the figs flesh side down. Cook for three to five minutes, undisturbed, more or less time depending on the size of the fig. Use a spatula to lift one of the figs up slightly if you need to check them. They're ready once they've developed a little bit of a golden-brown crust. If you cook the figs too long they'll start to ooze out onto the skillet so grab them while they're still holding their shape.

Transfer the seared fig halves to a serving platter. Spoon a generous dollop of goat cheese into the center of each fig. Figs have a natural indentation towards their centers which is perfect for stuffing.

Next, top each of the figs with chopped walnuts.

Drizzle each fig with honey and finish off the platter with a few grinds of cracked black pepper. (If all you have is pre-ground pepper from a can, just skip it.)

Serve immediately. Though they'll still be tasty at room temperature, I promise they won't last that long once you put this platter down!

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  1. When first toasting the walnuts in the skillet, should some type of cooking oil or butter be added? Awesome recipe!