For years, I have described August as a month of Sundays. The days are still long, the pools are still open, the occasional vacation-message-bounce-back email still makes its way to our inboxes but, like the workweek on the last day of the weekend, the proverbial “other shoe” of summer’s end hangs over our heads. The jig is about to be up.
There’s a lot to be said for the first two-thirds of summer–white linen pants, sunset at 9 PM, berries, berries, and more berries–but August is no shrinking violet. The white linen pants are all 50% off, it’s finally cool enough to run
at 9 PM, and just when the berries become overpriced and underwhelming THE FIGS COME IN!
FIGS! I was like Frodo hypnotized by The Ring in the produce section this week– I could not take my eyes off the perfectly-ripened sacs of sweetness. Despite the fact that I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, they looked so good that I bought them (Impulse Buy, Aisle 3!). Just when I thought my $3.99 had gone to waste, I stumbled across this brilliant salad and decided the only thing that could possibly make spinach, shitake and halloumi more awesome would be FIGS! (Also I think I have a new Chef Kefi Cooking Principle: when discussing FIGS, one ought always to capitalize. They are just THAT good.)
In the hopes that your August is a little more enjoyable and a little less dread-inducing, I bring you: a shitake, fig, and halloumi salad.
Shitake, Fig and Halloumi Salad
- 8 oz of shitake mushrooms
- 8 oz of regular mushrooms (or another 8 oz of shitake if you’re inclined)
- 1 bunch of spinach (approximately 2 c)
- 1/2 block of halloumi cheese (best is to cut in half lengthwise so you have thin pieces)
- olive oil
- 8-10 figs, stemmed and halved
- 1 TBS butter
- 1-2 TBS honey
1. Over medium heat, melt honey and butter in a small saute pan. Add halved figs, cut side down. Saute until soft and fragrant, which took me about 12 minutes. Some fig juice should ooze out into pan, turning honey/butter mixture a pinky-purple. This is what you want and it is awesome. Spoon honey/butter sauce over skin sides three or four times throughout cooking.
2. While figs are cooking, scantily grease with olive oil a large saute pan with olive oil and add medium heat. Saute mushrooms for 5 minutes or so, until soft. Add spinach, mix in with mushrooms and saute until just wilted.
3. Remove mushrooms and spinach. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN. Add the cheese and saute over medium heat until softened– 4-5 minutes on each side. Cheese should be soft and hot throughout but not melting all over the pan.
4. Cut halloumi into smaller pieces. Assemble salad by putting it all together (yep- it’s just that easy), adding figs last and using remaining fig/honey/butter juice as a scant dressing. EAT IMMEDIATELY, as halloumi gets squeaky and gross if it cools back down.