Have you ever found an ingredient at the store that was so fabulous you knew you had to do something special with it? It happens to me from time to time. This week it happened twice, with two separate ingredients. First it was the brilliantly beautiful Bresaola, deeply meaty and slightly gamey, which I purchased to stand in for Serrano Ham during my Tapas month posts and recipes written for the event at Foodies Plus. The second impressive ingredient was a twelve month aged Manchego, magnificently nutty and subtly sharp. I had been planning some kind of combination of figs, Manchego and Serrano Ham (but had to settle for the ham’s stand in, Bresaola) for some time, which I thought would be an excellent way to honor the ingredients. Although I considered using the fig jam I’ve already got on hand, I remembered from the first tasting that it was overly sweet and had obviously been made with dried figs. It is coming up on fig season; this just won’t do. As I was planning my own fig spread I decided to roast them with honey and rosemary.
Regarding honey: for these purposes, I recommend using a darker honey with molasses notes, such as buckwheat or wildflower honey. I used this lovely avocado honey (yet another ingredient I picked up for special recipes), and not only does it have a molasses note, but it also has an avocado-like buttery aftertaste, and a lightly bitter, grassy finish which reminds me of artichokes. Avocado honey is a very complex honey and I recommend trying some if you can get your hands on it. It is delightful on buttered dark bread.
Serve your roasted fig spread on crostini (as I did), or crackers and top with shaved Manchego and a slice of Bresaola.
Roasted Fig, Honey & Rosemary Spread
9 figs, halved with the tops removed
2 Tablespoons dark honey of choice
1 Tablespoon butter
2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only
2 - 3 drops olive oil
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil, to keep butter from burning. Add 1 Tablespoon honey and stir to melt.
2. When honey has melted, add rosemary leaves. Add a small pinch of salt. Allow to steep for five minutes.
3. Brush figs all over with butter/honey and in each cavity add a few rosemary leaves. Set on a greased or parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 10 - 15 minutes, until the figs have softened completely.
4. Allow to cool down to warm and pulse in a blender with remaining honey until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
5. Serve spread on crackers or toast with Manchego and Serrano Ham or Bresaola.