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Grilled Figs with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

Assertive gorgonzola cheese is a sophisticated counterpoint to naturally sweet fresh figs, which gain a smoky undertone when cooked on an outdoor grill. Salty prosciutto and tart-sweet balsamic vinegar add more intriguing layers to this easy-to-assemble starter, which is best eaten with a knife and fork.

Ingredients:

  • 16 firm but ripe fresh mission figs 
  • 2 oz. gorgonzola cheese, piccante or dolce 
  • Canola oil for grilling 
  • 16 paper-thin slices prosciutto di Parma 
  • Aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling 

Directions:

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium heat, or preheat a stove-top grill pan over medium heat.

Cut two 1-inch-long slits in the shape of an X across the top of each fig. Stuff each fig with about 1⁄2 tsp. of the cheese and press the sides of the fig together to close.

Brush the grill rack with canola oil. Place the figs on their sides on the grill rack and cook until they begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the figs over and continue cooking until the cheese begins to melt, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer the figs to a platter. Fold each prosciutto slice and stuff inside, drape over or wrap around a fig. Drizzle a little vinegar and oil over the tops of the figs and serve right away. Makes 16 stuffed figs; serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).