Oh yes, it’s another fig post: see here, here and here. I love figs. Being a native Colorado girl, there wasn’t a lot of “fig-exposure” as I grew up. I first learned to love them in Munich way back in 2003. They were everywhere in the autumn months, being brought up to German markets from Italy, just south of the border. We moved to Munich just days before the opening of Oktoberfest (in hind sight, it was a blur of jet lag, furniture shopping on an empty stomach and feeling faint in IKEA, and lot of Bavarian-style bonding in my red dirndl). After the dust settled, I started German immersion language classes at the Goethe Institut. Literally, I thank God for that class. I met a woman — let’s call her Frau Hedberg — who became one of my nearest and dearest life-long friends (if I have my way, you’ll get at least one guest-post from her this fall). And I learned to speak some German. The struggle to buy fruits and veggies at the Obst und Gemüse stand, bread at the Bäckerei or serrano at the Metzgerei was very real before I had any Deutsche “skills.” Try doing laundry at the neighborhood laundromat with forty choices on your washer — all in German. Expletive. Expletive. Expletive. So to finally have the keys to set myself free from my language-prison was a game changer. My worrying habit of ordering a slice of cheesecake (all browned from the oven with golden raisins here and there) during the afternoon Kaffeezeit morphed into a food-shopping and then cooking habit. I regularly brought home cheeses I had never seen or heard of, and made beautiful cheese boards, complete with sweet, multifaceted jewel-toned figs. I love beautiful food, and I especially love it when beautiful food is delicious, and when it happens to be a part of ancient history. The fig is all of these. Now, I’m just grateful that the fig is sexy and appears every fall in large quantities from Whole Foods to Trader Joes to CostCo. Long live the fig, and thank you, California.
All that to say… I was skimming my Instagram feed today and stopped with mouth agape when I saw Hande’s photo of her grilled cheese sandwich with figs and prosciutto. If you ever find yourself in Rome, you’ve got to sign yourself right up to tour food and wine with Hande at Vino Roma. Though I’ve never met Hande, she befriended my dear sweet friend Nicky of delicious:days shortly after we moved from Munich and so a friend of Nicky’s is a friend of mine! I discovered her Instagram feed several months ago and I get my Rome-fix through her photos. I studied art in Rome during college, and frankly, you can never have too much Rome in your life. Anyway, as it so happened, I had prosciutto and figs and more cheese in my cheese drawer than I’ll ever admit to, and my original plan for dinner was becoming unrealistic since I walked away from everything right when I should have started cooking and took four giggling school girls out for frozen yogurt. So, Hande’s photo was the catalyst. I came home, started assembling while my cast iron griddle heated and minutes later, we had the most delicious dinner sandwiches. I’ll be making these as many times as I cross paths with figs in the next few weeks.
Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto & Figs
recipe adapted by Stephanie Kunstle, inspired by Hande Leimer’s @vinoroma Instagram feed
- delicious bread — I used an organic sprouted wheat bread with wheat berries, rye flakes, and flax seeds
- Gorgonzola Dolce (about an ounce per sandwich), thinly sliced
- two large slices of prosciutto per sandwich
- about 1.5 to 2 figs per sandwich, quartered (Calimyrna, Brown Turkey, Smyrna, etc all work)
- fresh arugula (if you can find “wild arugula,” it is spicier and more flavorful than standard arugula)
- butter to smear on the outsides of your bread slices
- Heat your pan or even better, a cast iron skillet or griddle over low heat (it should get hot enough to melt butter but not burn it)
- While the pan/griddle is heating, assemble the sandwiches…
- Start by buttering the outer sides (grilling sides) of the bread, then begin layering the bread with slices of gorgonzola dolce, fold prosciutto over that, add the fig slices, top with a tiny handful of arugula, and finish with the second slice of bread which should be buttered on it’s grilling side.
- “Grill” the sandwiches until bread is toasted and golden on both sides and cheese is melted. If you have an iron sandwich press to set on top, that is a nice way to marry the ingredients. Slow consistent heat is the best so the sandwich is heated through (meaning, the figs will be warm and extra sweet if you take your time).
- Cut sandwiches in half, and serve with a salad of fresh arugula. I made a simple vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.