If you're lucky enough to have a productive fig tree in your yard, you'll no doubt be looking for ways to use your bounty of fruit. In this simple salad, the sweet succulence of fresh figs is balanced by the smoky, salty edge of bacon, and the creamy tang of Gorgonzola cheese. The mâche is tossed in a light vanilla vinaigrette, which adds an intriguing element to the mild flavor of this delicate lettuce.
The key to successful cooking of the bacon-wrapped figs is to first par-cook the bacon in a microwave; otherwise, the figs tend to disintegrate before the bacon is fully cooked and crispy. If you like, substitute slices of prosciutto for the bacon. A sprinkling of toasted pecans or walnuts over the salad makes a nice touch.
Place half of the bacon strips on a double thickness of paper towels. Cover the bacon with another double thickness of paper towels and microwave on high until the bacon is half-cooked, 30 to 60 seconds (depending on the wattage of your microwave and the thickness of the bacon). It's a good idea to experiment with an extra strip of bacon to determine the exact timing of this step, as microwaves vary widely in cooking power. You want the bacon to color slightly but still be pliable enough to wrap around the fig halves.
Once removed from the microwave, immediately wrap the bacon strips around half of the figs, securing the ends with a toothpick, if needed. Repeat the microwave step with the remaining bacon, and then wrap the remainder of the figs. The figs can rest at room temperature for an hour or two before proceeding, if desired. They can also be refrigerated, covered, for up to 8 hours.
To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, honey and olive oil in a small jar, seal tightly with a lid, and shake to emulsify. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set the vinaigrette aside at room temperature. The dressing can be made 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Position a rack at the topmost level of the oven, closest to the heat source. Preheat the broiler on high. Place the bacon-wrapped figs on a baking tray and broil, turning once, until the bacon is cooked. Remove the figs to a paper towel-lined plate while you finish the salad.
Place the mâche in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Divide the greens among 4 salad plates. Arrange 4 bacon-wrapped figs on each salad and top with some of the Gorgonzola cheese. Serve immediately.