The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.
This week’s recipe features figs, another seasonal delight. This fruit originates in Asia Minor and is believed to be one of the first domesticated fruit trees. As it spread around the world, many societies have appreciated this fruit for both its succulent sweetness and medicinal benefits. Figs probably came to China via the Silk Road around 700 A.D. According to Chinese medicine, figs are “sweet” and “cool.” They can “clear heat, generate fluids, open the stomach, and detoxify.” They are great for the throat, soothing a sore throat, easing a dry cough, or relieving a hoarse voice. They aid the digestive tract, whetting the appetite, relieving constipation, and reducing diarrhea or dysentery-like symptoms. Lastly, they are used to treat boils and other skin infections. To balance the potential dampness of the cheese, we have used black pepper and basil to warm the stomach and support digestion.
Amazing flavors abound as we pair the sweet richness of fresh figs with the salty flavors of pancetta. The grill adds a welcomed smokiness and the ricotta is balanced nicely with the honey, basil and black pepper, while a splash of balsamic lends a tangy accent to it all.
Enjoy the great blend of flavors in this appetizer and see if you can experience the health benefits of figs.
Grilled Fig, Pancetta & Ricotta Crostini with Accents of Honey, Basil and Black Pepper
10 minutes / 20 minutes
Prep Time / Cook Time
3 Fresh Figs
½ Cup Ricotta Cheese
1 1/2 Teaspoons Honey
3 Slices Pancetta
3-4 Leaves Basil (Fresh)
1 Teaspoon Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Slice baguette on the bias a bit more than ¼ inch, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and lightly grill both sides.
Slice figs in half and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and grill both sides.
Have your butcher slice pancetta around the 9-10 mark on the slicer, place individual slices on parchment paper and bake until it just starts to get crunchy (like bacon) and allow to cool.
Add honey, olive oil, black pepper and basil to fresh ricotta and mix together.
Begin assembling by placing a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on a grilled baguette slice. Top with a grilled fig and a piece of crispy pancetta. Move a few of these to a plate and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chiffonade of basil and fresh cracked black pepper.
Chinese Medicine recognizes many herbs which also strengthen digestion. Read about one of them here.