Nou, nog eentje dan maar voordat we weer ons tentje in moeten pakken en we weer richting huis en onze Pompelpoes rijden. Gelukkig is de zomer nog niet voorbij èn is inmiddels het vijgenseizoen begonnen. Heb ik jullie eerder goed van slag gebracht met zeer ongelukkig getimede verhalen over kerst en erwtensoep, nu een verhaaltje waar ik ooit op dat inmiddels verloren hoekje van het internet mee begon. Een zeer deftig hapje, maar wel van het kaliber stapelen: oftewel, je hoeft er niet eens een pan voor aan te raken, gewoon even investeren in een paar goede ingrediënten en je hebt het eeuwige aanzien van je schoonmoeder. Let wel: zonder rijpe vijgen, en goede (buffel!)mozzarella hoef je dit niet te proberen.
Figs are the most delicate little things. You often find them in dried form, in which they are quite sticky, sweet and a bit tangy. But for me, a ripe figs are a indescribable luxury. Their purple velvet skins hold the promise of a gorgeous inside: the smooth, colourful flesh, combined with the crispiness of the seeds make figs, in my humble opinion, something very special.
Although the fig season is almost over, I wanted to start with this little dish in order to draw your attention to a side of food that is part of our daily life but often neglected: the sensual side of eating. Food, of course, needs to taste good. Next to being healthy, affordable and easy to prepare, these are our main goals cooking a meal at the end of the day. Now, I’m not going to torn at your mum’s famous stamppot recipe, but are going to give you the tools to steal all attention with an exciting little bite at a fancy party – or just with friends over a good glass of wine. They will never look at you the same again.
All food is cultural; we derive a sense of identity from the food we eat. Kroketten, stroopwafels and hagelslag promptly give us a sense of being Dutch when talking to a foreigner, but there is also a social status attached to food. ‘Having a good taste’ and, ‘being a good cook’ can make you an appreciated host. But let’s be honest: we all need to acquire these tastes and skills. Luckily, cooking is a thing that can be learned, and it starts by following the recipe. Not all recipes are suitable, so let’s start with something simple. And even if you’re a good cook already, organising parties is a lot of work, and we do like to spend some time at our party instead of in the kitchen. If you’re in need of time or just looking for an easy recipe with a wow-effect, start with this one. It’s fast, simple and delicious, and the key lies in its ability to please all our senses.
We like culturally sophisticated food, and this dish has it all. The colours are stunning, the purple, white and pink lusciousness of the figs, mozzarella and prosciutto are highlighted by the green arugula leafs. A bite gives a whole range of textures: crispy bread, smooth mozzarella and chewy prosciutto, with the interesting fig on top. And the flavour, well… Tangy balsamic vinegar, sweet figs, bitter arugula with savoury cheese and the salty prosciutto, finished with grassy, buttery olive oil: it does not get better than this. Just make sure you buy some good quality stuff: a good olive oil, mozzarella di bufala (not the rubbery kind, its worth it, trust me), and ripe figs. This dish will please your guests, and the only problem is how to top this next time.
Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto bruschetta
- A loaf of ciabatta, in 1 cm slices
- 2 pieces mozzarella di bufala, (about 8 slices each)
- 2 figs, in eight parts
- Handful of arugula
- 16 slices of prosciutto ham
- A good old, syrup-like balsamic vinegar, or a store-bought balsamic glaze
- Olive oil
- Clove of garlic
- Black pepper
Preheat an oven to 200°. Brush the slices of bread with some olive oil and rub it with a halved garlic clove. Grill the bread until crispy – I like them still a bit soft on the inside. Let them cool down a little. Start with some arugula leafs and drape on this a slice of prosciutto. The secret is not to put it flat on the bread, but wrinkle it a little, in almost playful way. Top this with a slice of mozzarella and the figs. Drizzle a bit of the balsamic vinegar on top, as well as some olive oil, and finish with some freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately. Now, get out of the kitchen and join your party.