Agrodolce — a traditional Italian sweet-and-sour sauce (agro means “sour” and dolce “sweet”) — is a mouthwatering tussle of contrast that seems to tickle every taste bud. Figs lend themselves to achieving the sauce’s yin-yang blast in a healthier way, because their inherent sweetness means little added sugar is needed to balance its vinegary pucker.
The balsamic vinegar, with its own deep, natural sweet notes, gets simmered with browned shallot, some water and just a tablespoon of honey until the liquid is reduced to a sumptuously tangy syrup.
Then, quartered black mission figs (an especially sweet variety) and a little salt and pepper are tossed into the warm sauce. (You can use any variety of fresh figs, but you may need to adjust the flavor with a little more honey depending on how sweet they are.)
Here, the figs get scattered on a mound of simply dressed arugula — the pleasant pepperiness of the greens offsets the bold sweet-tang of the fruit — and partnered with bites of salty, silky prosciutto. It’s a salad so flavorful, you’ll wish you could have it all the time, but make it now while you can, during this relatively brief window of fresh fig season.
Arugula salad with figs agrodolce and prosciutto
The figs can be made up to 3 days in advance.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup thinly sliced shallots (2 medium shallots)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon mild honey
8 fresh black mission figs, stemmed and quartered (cut into eighths if large)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula
4 slices prosciutto (1½ ounces)
In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they start to soften and turn brown on the edges, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the vinegar, water and honey to the skillet, raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid thickens and is reduced to a syrup, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the figs and ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss gently to evenly coat the figs.
In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Divide the arugula among 4 salad plates. Divide the figs evenly, then scatter torn pieces of the prosciutto around the plates and serve.
Makes 4 servings. Nutrition per serving: 190 calories, 5 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, no cholesterol, 290 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 20 grams sugar.