I think figs can turn a bland salad into an elegant entrée, and they can enhance the flavor of meat beautifully, so I like to marinate my rack of lamb in a fig and onion paste. I included my Rack of Lamb with Fig Sauce recipe (below) in my newest cookbook, The Age Beautifully Cookbook, and it has been a favorite at dinner parties.
Lamb has protein for building muscle and plenty of vitamin B12, which protects neurons and brain cells. Figs contain calcium and potassium, which work together for proper nerve and muscle function. Calcium also helps keep bones and teeth strong.
My Fig Salad recipe (below) in my Age Gracefully Cookbook layers fresh fig quarters over smooth ricotta cheese. The figs are then drizzled with balsamic syrup and dotted with mint leaves. This salad is elegant, delicious, and a real bone-builder.
Figs are also an excellent source of fiber. One serving of this salad provides about 12-15 percent of the daily requirement, in addition to some benefits from antioxidants, beta-carotene, and potassium. Figs also contain anthocyanins, which help reduce the risk of cancer. Deep purple figs have a greater concentration of anthocyanins than green or golden figs. Balsamic vinegar contains antioxidants and helps boost metabolism and regulate blood sugar. Slightly sweet and slightly tart, this salad also works well as an appetizer or dessert.
Figs have two seasons — a quick, shorter season in early summer and a second, main crop that starts in late summer and runs through fall. So enjoy them while your can!
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
1 Tbs. honey
10-12 quartered figs
Pinch of sea salt
Mint leaves as garnish
- Drain the ricotta overnight in the refrigerator in a sieve lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
- Place the ricotta in a food processor and pulse a few times until smooth.
- Combine the balsamic vinegar and water in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Add the honey and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat to cool.
- To assemble, place a few spoonsful of ricotta cheese on each plate and spread out the cheese, making a bed for the figs. Distribute the figs among the plates. Sprinkle with sea salt, drizzle with the balsamic syrup, and garnish with the mint leaves.
Rack of Lamb with Fig Marinade
You can broil the lamb instead of grilling it. A fine red wine can also be used instead of the cooking wine and/or the pomegranate juice. Use the same wine you plan to serve at dinner for a nice pairing. A good Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon would work well.
½ cup dried figs
½ cup warm water
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
1½ cups red cooking wine
2 Tbsp. pomegranate juice
1 tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. black pepper
2 lbs. rack of lamb
2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Soak the figs in the water for 1 hour, then combine them with the water and onion in a blender and blend for about 2 minutes or until a smooth paste forms.
- In a saucepan, simmer the cooking wine over low heat for up to 15 minutes or until its volume has been reduced by half. Add the fig paste and stir thoroughly.
- Remove from the heat and add the pomegranate juice, salt, and pepper. Stir again until well blended.
- Place the lamb in a baking pan or plastic Ziploc bag. Add the marinade, coating the meat entirely, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6 hours. If using a pan, cover it with plastic wrap.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Remove the lamb from the marinade and allow it to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the marinade to a small bowl and whisk in the oil.
- Sear the lamb over medium heat on the grill for 5 minutes one each side. Finish cooking it the oven at 450 degrees for 7–15 minutes, basting often with the marinade. The internal temperature should read 145 degrees when done.