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Grilled Figs with Dry Jack and Prosciutto

Grilling or roasting fresh figs gives them a caramelized, sweet flavor that enhances this classic Italian-style pairing of a salty cheese, cured meat and ripe fruit. Serve the figs hot off the grill as a starter, or combine them with a simple arugula salad for a light meal. Change up the dish by using Parmigiano-Reggiano or an aged pecorino instead of the dry Jack.

Ingredients:

  • 16 soft fresh figs
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 oz. dry Jack cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. prosciutto, thinly sliced, each slice cut in half or thirds to
      make 16 pieces

Directions:

Arrange the figs in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and turn gently to coat them with the oil.

Grill method: Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill and oil the grill rack. Place the figs on the hot grill and cook, turning once or twice, until the skins start to glisten and lightly char, about 3 minutes.

Stovetop method: Preheat an oven to 450°F. Place the figs, still in the baking dish, in the oven and roast, turning several times, until shiny and plump, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer the figs to a wire rack (or leave in the baking dish) until cool enough to handle. Slit each fig from the stem end almost to the bottom and slip a piece of cheese and a half-slice of prosciutto into the slit. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cheese, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2010).