Tomato and fig salad with balsamic dressing and crumbled blue cheese is an example of wonderful food pairing – it’s a real burst of flavours.
Match your foods
Good pairing is an art, as matchmakers very well know (or is it ‘coupling facilitation consultants’ now?). In food, as in a relationship, compatibility is important and the superficially similar do not always make the best bedfellows. Whoever first thought of spreading animal fat on baked grain dough was undoubtedly a genius – bread and butter seems natural now but I bet it hadn’t always been so.
Tomatoes are like those easy-going types that will get on well with anyone. In fact possibly only chocolate won’t make a good pair with them, and not because they don’t do sweet, ketchup my witness. Chocolate generally doesn’t work with vegetables and fruit that masquerade as vegetables, our hero being one of those.
But other than that, you can throw them at various foodstuffs with impunity and they won’t suffer rejection.
This is a particularly well-matched couple: tomatoes and figs. Blue cheese adds a salty touch, otherwise it would be too much of a Mills & Boone book cover.
I’ve found the idea in the NY Times Cooking and one of the commenters underneath the recipe calls the combination a ‘taste bomb’. They aren’t wrong.
Of course, like with most salads and especially featuring tomatoes, it’s essential to have them ripe and fresh. No use trying to make this salad with sad and watery, air-flown fruit in the middle of the winter.
Anyway, you wouldn’t find many figs at that time of year. Figs wonderfully self-regulate their seasonality and no figs grow in the southern hemisphere!
I actually prefer my figs firm and not overripe – they have better colour then as well. And I love the way they look, slightly obscene, justly associated with sexuality in many cultures.
Salad as main course
Personally, in summer I like to have this kind of a dish as a main course for lunch or even dinner. The blue cheese adds some bulk and protein, and if you had some good bread on the side, what more would you want?
Well, if you did want something more, you could sprinkle some mixed seeds over the salad or add croutons made from stale bread, diced and toasted with olive oil or butter.
And the type of cheese is your choice: I love Roquefort but if you prefer it less pungent and less, hmm, French, use nice and ripe Stilton.
The dressing is very simple but worth chalking down for another occasion, as it will enliven a boring green salad, too. Good balsamic vinegar with twice as much olive oil, plus some lemon juice to emulsify it and a drop of honey, to bump up the sweetness.
More tomato salad recipes
Creamed sweetcorn with blue cheese served with tomatoes. This recipe for tomatoes with creamed cheesy corn is one of the best summery combinations. Easy creamed corn ready in minutes, seasoned with blue cheese and black pepper.
Tomato nun, la religieuse de tomate, is an exquisite appetiser of cold, uncooked tomato stuffed with pesto-flavoured burrata cheese.
Whipped feta and hazelnut dip is heavenly spooned on cherry tomato halves. Snacking does not get much healthier than this!
More fig recipes
Baked figs with blue cheese, a drop of honey and a drizzle of balsamic can be a gorgeous starter, side dish, lunch or even a healthy dessert.
Saganaki is a Greek dish of anything cooked and served in a small skillet, with cheese saganaki the most popular. This recipe for fried saganaki feta with caramelised figs is dead simple and makes a super tasty snack or appetiser.
Fresh fig confit recipe; confiture made with fresh figs, with whole chunks of figs in syrup made with port or madeira wine. This fig confit is more versatile than jam; use it with cheese and meats. Fig confit will keep two weeks in the fridge.