Monday, August 12, 2013

KING SALMON IN FIG LEAVES, ROASTED FETA-STUFFED FIGS

This recipe looks deceptively complicated... from washing the fig leaves to eating, it took all of 20 - 25 minutes! The roasted, feta-stuffed fresh figs are just as quick to whip up, and so addictive! Figs, unlike bananas, peaches, nectarines, and many other fruits, don't ripen off the tree. So if you buy figs in a package, chances are you've got a few less-than-perfectly-ripe ones. And those semi-ripe ones are not the best for eating raw. But they're perfect for roasting because it brings out the sweetness even in slightly unripe figs. And, the saltiness of the feta and peppery arugula leaves complement the honey-like flavour of roasted figs.

Fig leaves are so under-rated and overlooked... the leaves themselves are not the best for eating, but they are perfect for cooking. They look stunning, have a delicious warm coconut-y aroma when they're roasted, and hold up very well so no dealing with a lost sauce. 

I've roasted salmon and monkfish in fig leaves and they're both winners! During fig season, most farmer's markets and specialty grocery stores sell fig leaves. If you're in California, chances are you, a neighbour, or someone-you-know's neighbour has a fig tree or two. So then you have fig leaves whenever you want... or at least, often. Or maybe someone you know works at a project site with fig trees and rosemary hedges and lemon trees and olive trees and apple trees and avocado trees nearby. It can happen.











King Salmon in Fig Leaves, Roasted Feta-Stuffed Figs
Servings: 2

for the salmon:
- 2 4 oz. filets of King Salmon or any other salmon, preferably skin-on
- 2 large fig leaves (or 4 medium)
- 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste

for the figs:
- 8 or 10 fresh, ripe or slightly unripe figs, washed
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1 tbsp. dry rosemary, chopped (optional)
- 4 oz. feta or chevre 
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups arugula (or other greens)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.
2. Rinse fig leaves and pat them dry.
3. Slice the ends off the lemon, slice the lemon into approximately 8 thin slices.
4. Lay a fig leaf flat on a cutting board, plate, or directly on the baking tray.
5. Place the salmon lengthwise on the centre of the fig leaf and generously season with salt and pepper.
6. Arrange 4 of the lemon slices on the salmon, overlapping each slice.
7. Drizzle 1/2 tbsp. olive oil over the salmon.
8. Wrap the top of the fig leaf over the salmon, then wrap the sides, and then the stem-end. You should now have a neat salmon packet.
9. Flip so that the seams are facing down to keep the packet closed during cooking.
10. Repeat with the second filet.
11. Now work on the stuffed figs. You can stuff the figs first, then prep the salmon but the cheese stuffing might get runny - it'll still be good.
12. Slice the stem-end off each fig and cut an X into the fig, stopping short of cutting all the way through.
13. Set each fig down, cut side up, and gently squeeze the round base of the fig so the fig 'crowns' or opens up for the filling (check out the photos above for crowned figs)
14. Put the feta, rosemary, pepper, and lemon juice in a bowl. Mash and mix well.
15. Stuff each fig with about 1 tsp. of the feta mixture, taking care not to tear the fig open all the way. Divide any leftover mixture between the figs. 
16. Put both filets and the stuffed figs on the baking tray and into the oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Since the salmon is wrapped, it won't dry out in 20 minutes, but don't cook it for much longer than that.
17. Remove from the oven.
18. Mound 1 cup of arugula on a plate, leaving room for the wrapped salmon.
19. Arrange 4-5 roasted figs on the arugula leaves.
20.  Flip the salmon seam-side up onto the serving plate next to the figs.
21. Unwrap the salmon and enjoy! Discard the fig leaves though... they're not that good.

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