Figs have a short, but much anticipated growing season in the Washington area. If you are not lucky enough to own a fig tree or know someone who does, now is the time to look for them in the farmers markets.
Once you eat a locally grown fig, you will think twice before buying the shrink-wrapped varieties found in the grocery stores; nothing compares to a fresh fig.
Serve with rustic bread.
Make Ahead: The lamb chops need to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- For the lamb
- 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
- 2 large cloves garlic
- Leaves from 4 sprigs mint, chopped (1/4 cup)
- Leaves from 2 to 4 stems rosemary, stems reserved to use as shish kebab skewers at a later meal), chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 lamb loin chops (about 1 3/4 pounds total; may substitute 1 pound leftover grilled lamb, cut into slices)
- For the figs
- 12 figs (Brown Turkey figs are the most commonly grown in this area, although any fresh fig would be appropriate), stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
- Leaves from 2 stems thyme (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- For the salad
- 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
- 1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Juice from 1 lemon (2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Olive oil or water (optional)
- 7 cups watercress or arugula leaves (stems trimmed), washed and spun-dry
For the lamb: Combine the mustard, garlic, mint, rosemary, oil and salt in the bowl of a mini food processor; puree to form a paste. Rub it all over the lamb chops; cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Let the lamb come to room temperature before grilling.
Prepare the grill. If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 or 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Place the chops on the grill grate and cook for 4 minutes; a crisp crust will form. Then turn them over and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until crusted on the second side (medium-rare).
Meanwhile, roast the figs: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place the fig halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with the oil and sprinkle with the thyme. Roast for 10 minutes, then let cool.
For the salad: Whisk together the yogurt, goat cheese, honey, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt in a medium bowl to form a dressing. Thin with a little olive oil or water, if desired. Divide the greens among individual plates.
To assemble: Arrange the lamb chops on top of the greens, then place 6 fig halves around each portion. Scoop dollops of dressing over the lamb and salad.
Adapted by Cynthia A. Brown, assistant director at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, from two recipes in the September issue of Bon Appetit magazine.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.