Minted Fig and Feta Salad


If you're looking for an unusual salad, this just might fit the bill. Inspired by Middle Eastern flavors, it combines honey-roasted figs with pistachio nuts, fresh mint, feta cheese, and rose water. The result is as beautiful as it is delicious. For optimum flavor, make the salad at least 30 minutes before serving. Rosewater is made from a distillation of rose petals and has a wonderful perfumy flavor and fragrance. It's a popular flavoring in the cuisines of India and the Middle East; it's readily available in specialty stores, ethnic markets, and at most Whole Foods.


8 small fresh figs, cut in half (or quarter if they're big) through the stem end
2 tablespoons clover or other mild honey
    juice of 2 oranges (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
5 ounces imported feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
    salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F.

Place the figs, cut side up, on a small baking sheet. Brush the cut surfaces with honey. Roast until the figs are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the figs cool at room temperature.  

Combine the orange juice and rosewater in a small bowl.

Place the figs, feta cheese, pistachios, and mint in another bowl and toss to combine. Pour the orange juice mixture over the salad and stir gently.

Refrigerate the salad for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.


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