Saturday night's dinner was the culmination of two and half days of cooking my way through a batch of twenty fresh figs (and some dried ones, as well). Ever since my friends Meghan and Lindsay took me to Sfoglia to celebrate my birthday (the day before -- twas a week full of celebrations), I have been obsessed with a dish the chef, Ron, actually came to my former employer to cook: Pasta with Figs, Brown Butter, Basil, and Hazelnuts. I had a bag of handmade, homemade pappardelle in my freezer. More figs than I could eat in one sitting. And some fresh basil I had been growing for the past two weeks in a NY windowsill.
I started the evening off making a red wine-fig vinaigrette with a 1/3 full bottle of one of my favorite red wines (Heitz Cabernet -- loved visiting this winery!) and five dried figs I had on hand. I tossed this with some baby spinach from the greenmarket, and voila - a healthy dose of greens!
I then proceeded to finish cooking off my pasta and browning my butter. I added the fresh figs and basil, with a pinch of salt, to the browned butter and tossed them together, cooking them til the flavors
melded. To that I added my cooked pasta with about 1/4 c pasta water. Brought the mixture to a gentle boil and tossed the ingredients together while the sauce reduced slightly. Served with a healthy dose of grated gruyere, and a garnish of sauteed spicy Italian sausage (I had no toasted hazelnuts on hand, but the pasta is very good with plain, roasted, salted mixed nuts), it was a delicious dish to end a busy day.
|Spicy Italian sausage|
|The finished dish, pasta atop greens|
Red Wine Fig Vinaigrette
1 1/2 - 2 cups red wine
5-6 dried figs, quartered
6 demerara sugar cubes
2 tbsp champagne vinegar
Grapeseed oil (I used about 1/4 c)
In a 8" saucepan, bring figs and wine to a boil and reduce until about 1/4" deep (1/2 cup of liquid, or thereabouts). Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour wine mixture into a jar and add oil and vinegar, shaking to homogenize. Season to taste.
Fig, Brown Butter, Basil Pasta
6 tbsp salted butter
8 figs, quartered
1/2 c basil leaves
Salt to taste
Pappardelle, or another thicker noodle, enough for 2 people
2 spicy Italian chicken sausages, cooked and sliced on the bias, optional
Toasted hazelnuts or mixed nuts, optional
Freshly grated gruyere to taste.