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Figs with Speck and Bitter Leaves

Let us be clear here: most Sardinians do not put fruit in salads. Their puritanical attitude to food means their salad components barely even extend to lemon juice or vinegar. A salad in Sardinia generally means green lettuce dressed only with olive oil and salt. It’s delicious, the oil is so good it couldn’t fail to be.

But then, as I said in the introduction to this book, cookery is full of contradictions. Recipes are made by people, and people are contrary beings. Sards love to pair the salt of cured hams with the sweet clarity of melon, or the sun-ripe jamminess of figs. Here I have taken this idea and spun it out into an ensemble salad.

I love to eat fruit in salads, and I have made such sweet-savoury combinations often, and they are (mostly) well received, despite a few rumblings about the English being ‘strange’ and all our food being ‘confused’, which are par for the course. This salad is a celebration of some of the best ingredients, and one of my favourite things to eat when the figs are ripe. Vive la revolution!

Serves 4-6

6 ripe black figs

6 slices of speck or prosciutto

60g ricotta salata, shaved

A head of radicchio or other bitter leaf

1 bunch/bag of rocket or small green leaf of your choice

Juice and zest of 1 small lemon

15g grated parmesan

4 tbsp best extra virgin olive oil

Good pinch of salt

Make a rough dressing by mixing the salt, lemon juice and zest, parmesan and olive oil. Shave the ricotta salata (using a knife or peeler). Rip open the figs and arrange them on a serving platter. Dress the leaves well and arrange them over the figs. Scatter over the ricotta and dot the speck slices around. Drizzle with extra oil and serve.


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