I think this might be my favourite time of year for food. Summer produce is still there for the taking – late tomatoes and figs, courgettes and corn, bringing all their sunshine and sweetness. But there is newness entering the shops and veg stalls too. A reassuring kind of newness in the form of apples and pears, squash and leeks. Everything seems at its best – all of it crying out to be enjoyed.
I love having an excuse for cosy dinners again, for turning any root that comes my way into a gratin and every fruit into a crumble or a crisp. We had the first crumble of the season last weekend. Apple and blackberry, with plenty of nutmeg in the topping, puddles of hot custard and dollops of very cold thick cream to serve. Because life’s too short not to have both.
For this week’s Friday night dinner, I wanted something that would sit comfortably in this moment, right on the cusp of a new season. I fancied some of the ingredients you might find in the best kind of summer grazing lunch – sweet figs, sharp cheese, salty cured ham – but reimagined as a warm, comforting dinner.
For this recipe, you’ll parboil little potatoes (I used ratte), then smash them and roast until crisp, along with a whole head of garlic. Then right at the end you’ll add halved figs, spooning a little balsamic vinegar onto each one. You’ll barely warm through thick slices of chalky goats cheese, then serve the whole gorgeous tray with prosciutto (or another silky cured meat) and some finely chopped tarragon.
Some extra crunch might be nice, possibly in the form of some toasted pine nuts or walnuts scattered over when you come to serve. You’ll definitely need bread and a fresh, ideally bitter salad. I’d be tempted to find a frisée lettuce or some endive and toss it with a very classic, thick vinaigrette.