This has been one of the longest, sweetest fig seasons I can remember, and while the superior green Calimyrna figs might be on their last legs, the black mission figs are still in full force. The season might be wrapping itself up, but I'm sure Neil Young would agree that it's better to burn out than to fade away. So let's burn those figs, shall we?
Recipes like this are pretty much my favorite: all you've gotta do is pay for the ingredients, then sit back and let mother nature do the work for you. Sweet, jammy figs long for a salty, meaty partner. You could do worse than a good speck. La Quercia, the Iowa-based company that produces what Jeffrey Steingarten has called "the best prosciutto domestic or imported you can get in America," also makes a mighty fine version of this smokey, juniper-flavored Austrian ham, and it's readily available (I've seen it sliced to order at Fairway, and in Cryovac packs at Whole Foods).
Add the fresh kick of a few roughly torn basil leaves, a sprinkle of coarse, crackly, pyramidal Maldon salt, and a drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil, and you've just managed to put the last breath of summer on a plate. Neil would be proud.
- Yield:4 as an appetizer
- Active time: 5 minutes
- Total time:5 minutes
- A dozen mission figs, split in half
- 12 paper thin slices speck (about 3 ounces)
- 8 basil leaves, roughly torn
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt, such as Maldon
Arrange figs and speck on platter. Top with basil. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve immediately.