We often associate romance with relationships and it is so easily forgotten that there are many romances to experience in this beautiful, chaotic life. The romance between you and something you love. Reading, traveling, taking in a sunset or sunrise, writing, painting. And the romance you have with yourself. Taking time to pamper your body, spirit and mind.
For me one of my fondest romances is being in the kitchen creating all kinds of delicious concoctions. My eyes come alive when I see stunning produce at the farmers market, my spirit finds a quiet joy in planting and harvesting plants I have grown with my two small hands. I have always found honesty and trust within the kitchen. Not just with the food, but the way people let down their guards while sharing a meal. The walls come down, every sense is entranced with the delicacies laid before them and all of a sudden stories start to flow, laughter dances in the air, and pure enjoyment fills the room. There is nothing quite as beautiful as watching humans share, and emit pleasure and appreciation.
This can happen every single day when you share meals with one another. When we take the time to truly create food that nourishes and excites. I have also always believed that the most magical part of creating food is the way it evokes memories. Memories of love, comfort, loss, a first kiss, a long goodbye. We remember through smells, feelings, colors and sounds. The art of cooking truly inspires every sense and also allows us to remember. Fig Bruschetta with Cashew Ricotta is richly romantic, and entices all of the senses. It is so beautiful that it reminds one of all the beauty that exists in everyday pleasures. A fig is just a fruit but when you slice it open and see the vibrant colors of its flesh and smell that sticky sweet aroma, you are reminded of nature’s never-ending allure. The creamy cashew ricotta is decadent and comforting and the perfect accompaniment to the rich fig compote. Before you make this, take a deep breath, put on some of your favorite music, and get ready to get lost in creation!
The Goods (Serves 6-10 people):
For the Roasted Fig Compote:
1/2 pound ripe figs
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme or minced basil
For The Cashew Ricotta:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water*
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon thyme leaves or basil depending on the flavors you love
For the Fig Bruschetta assembly:
Crusty bread loaf or baguette, sliced
Olive Oil for brushing the bread
5-6 ripe figs, quartered
1/4 cup chopped Toasted Walnuts (optional)
Fresh Basil, Parsley or Thyme leaves for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice the tough stems off of the figs then slice the figs into quarters. Place the figs in a baking dish and toss with one Tablespoon of your balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and thyme. Cover the baking dish with foil and roast for 15-20 minutes or until the figs are tender and fragrant.
Once the figs cool and are easy to touch, puree them in a food processor or blender with the remaining tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (feel free to add more balsamic to taste). Put puree in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Next make the cashew cheese by draining and rinsing the cashews. Put the cashews, lemon juice and zest salt, pepper, and thyme or basil in your high powered blender. Blend on high until smooth with a texture similar to ricotta cheese. You may need to use a spatula to scrape down the sides in between blending. Spoon the cashew cheese out into a large bowl and set aside.
Now it’s time to grill your bread! Heat the grill and lightly brush each sides of sliced bread with olive oil. Grill each side of the bread till golden and crisp.
Spread your decadent cashew cheese over each slice of bread.
Top each bread slice with fig compote, chopped and toasted walnuts, fresh figs and fresh thyme leaves.
Serve and indulge with conversation, laughter and love!
Food is meant to be enjoyed together and these stunning bites will bring such joy to all those who indulge. While you make this recipe, I hope it brings back memories for you, and I also hope you create new memories that will bring smiles years from now.
Michelle Gerrard-Marriott is the creator and owner of The Vibrant Kitchen & Home and a Vegan & Gluten Free Recipe Creator, Writer, and Social Media Manager. You can keep up with all of her recipes and adventures at the-vibrant-kitchen.com. Find her on Instagram @thevibrantkitchen, Twitter @Vibrantkitchen, and Pinterest @chellemarriott.