Author Notes: This recipe is a vehicle for smushed or overripe figs. It's great on grilled bread, on pasta, or tossed with some crispy greens for a salad. Make sure you talk to your cheesemonger or do some Googling to track down the creamiest feta possible, otherwise it will dry out too much in the oven. If all else fails, soaking the feta overnight in garlic oil moistens it up quite a bit. Alternatively, you can use creamy fresh goat cheese. I make balsamic reduction by boiling down inexpensive balsamic vinegar (usually, a 17-ounce bottle yields about 3/4 cup). Or go crazy and just bust out your fancy aged balsamic. You won't be sorry.
Serves 1 to 2
- 1/2 cup creamy feta (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for soaking the feta)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
- 12 very ripe figs (any kind you can find)
- 1 tablespoon garlic oil (scooped from feta oil)
- 2 teaspoons aged balsamic or homemade balsamic reduction
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 10 or so mint or parsley leaves
Crumble feta into a jar or bowl. Top with olive oil and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours, preferably overnight.
Heat oven to 400° F. Stem and halve figs. Scoop a tablespoon of olive oil out of the feta mixture and sprinkle it over the figs. Coat each fig with a bit of balsamic. Sprinkle with salt. Tuck in the chunks of feta. Toss on the thyme sprigs, and put them in the oven. Check them after 15 minutes. The figs cook fast. Don't let them completely fall apart. When they're quite jammy and releasing their juices, remove from the oven and turn on your broiler. Broil for a minute or two until the figs and feta are just starting to brown. Remove from the oven. Cool for a few minutes. Pick out thyme sprigs and use your fingers to sprinkle the crispy leaves down over the figs. Discard sprigs. Garnish with mint or parsley leaves. Serve.