One of the perks of being a food consultant is that happy clients are constantly bestowing me with gifts. Mostly food gifts which I of course always gratefully accept. And so it was that some incredibly beautiful and tasty mission figs came into my possession.
Figs happen to be one of my all time favorite fruits. I love their pretty round shape, deep purple skin and pinkish red flesh. They also happen to be one of the most symbolic fruits deemed sacred by world religions and holistic communities alike. The ancient hebrews looked upon the fig tree as a symbol of peace and plenty, the muslim community dubbed it “tree of heaven” and legend has it that Buddha reached the highest state of enlightment while sitting underneath one. Oh and let’s not forget the fig leaves that covered Adam and Eve’s private parts once they had decided they were to be private. Perhaps not the best choice considering the fact that the abundant tiny seeds in the fruit are symbolic for fertility and feminine sexuality. No wonder they went on to give birth to the entire world population!
In Ayurveda figs are believed to aid digestion, purify the blood, act as an aphrodisiac and increase semen (See, somebody should have warned Adam and Eve. Oh silly me. Just remembered, there was no one else around…) Their sweet taste is said to lower Vata and Pitta and increase Kapha. And they are at their very best this time of year.
Not wanting to waste these precious little beauties I quickly took stock of my kitchen pantry to find some pungent rocket and baby beet leaves (please buy the organic stuff! Not to be snooty or even overly health conscious but because they are so infinitely tastier than their supermarket cousins.) and some other little gems I’d bought earlier that week. Chocolate tomatoes! Yes, that’s right. No typing error on my part. Let me spell that out for you. CHO- CO- LATE TO-MA-TOES. I was tipped about these mouthfuls of joy by another happy client who couldn’t stop raving about their sweetness and gave me the exact location in Amsterdam where I could get hold of some. I left her house, jumped on my bike and didn’t stop until I cupped 3 perfect darkish green/brown specimens in my hands as if they were diamonds. And believe you me, to me they were! These tomatoes don’t exactly taste of chocolate but they have a deep, rich sweet taste very different from the fruity sweetness of, say, cherry tomatoes. They are a heirloom variety with reddish brown and faded olive green striped skins and deep red very firm flesh. Perfect for cutting up in thin or medium thick slices.
As if that wasn’t enough for just one single salad I added what I now lovingly refer to as the rolls rolls under the mozzarella cheeses (that is of course if you happen to like rolls rolls, otherwise feel free to substitute for an SUV, Ferrari, laser jet, broom stick or any vehicle of your liking); burrata. The name very aptly means buttered in Italian and that is exactly what this cheese tastes like. It is made up of an outer shell of the smoothest buffelo mozzarella you have ever layed eyes upon and is than filled with a mixture of gooey soft mozzarella ánd cream.
How can this sinfully good meal be Ayurvedic? I hear you ask. Well my friends, I’m afraid this is where the “busted” part of this posts title comes in…. Strictly speaking it is certainly not. Purist will tell you you are not supposed to mix fruits with any other food group and when treating you as a patient so will I. Fruit digests quicker than other foods and when combined can stay longer in the digestive tract than necessary causing fermentation. Therefore anyone who is suffering from any form of weak digestion should definitely stay clear of this dish. But if you have a strong digestion, stick to the rules most of the time and feel the need to indulge occasionally this little number has your name on it!
This dish is best for Pitta since they have the strongest capacity for digesting raw foods and figs have a balancing effect on them. Vata and Kapha’s should only eat this on rare occasion in the summer months and if their digestion is in top form. Tomatoes can be too acidic for Pitta’s but these darlings are so so very sweet in taste that they shouldn’t give any problems. To further help the digestion along I dress the salad with quite an unusual aniseed dressing that works a treat with the figs as well as the tomatoes.
The “busted” fig salad
Small lunch for 2
- 2 ripe but firm figs
- 2 chocolate tomatoes
- two handfuls of organic rocket and baby beet leaves
- 1 small fennel bulb in very thin slices (optional)
- 1/2 burrata
- Drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed aniseeds
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Himalaya rock salt
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Slice the figs and tomatoes in medium thick slices making sure to keep their shape. If using the shaved fennel gently mix it through the rocket leaves. Spoon the dressing over the salad leaves making sure they are all well coated. Drape the dressed salad leaves in the middle of a large plate.
Arrange the fig slices on one side of the plate and the tomato slices on the other. Sprinkle some coarse rock or sea salt over the tomato. Now very delicately and with extreme joyful anticipation pull of some shreds of the burrata cheese and drape over the salad leaves. If you like you can drizzle some good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the rim of the plate.