After our delicious pasta dinner last night in the Old City, we were raving about a particular spaghetti dish we had which used figs, a rare ingredient in our cooking, and I spent most of today nibbling on some with salty spreadable cheese while doing my Microeconomics reading, so it’s inevitable that we made a dish with pasta and figs for dinner as well. Steve liked it so much he said he could possibly eat it every night for a week, which I regard as being the height of compliments from this man. There’s no use not sharing it with you!
The spaghetti we had last night was called Spaghetti Dalmatica, Dalmatica being the region of Croatia just north of Dubrovnik. It had a tantalizing mix of prosciutto, which is smoked ham sliced very thinly, with bits of dried figs, and parmesan and parsley with almost too much olive oil. What we made is inspired by this dish, but includes more of the local ingredients we are enjoying in Dubrovnik. It’s also vegetarian, and depends mostly on the figs and cheese for its flavor, so don’t skimp on those! Keep some extra on hand to add flavor as needed. In general, it has a pretty subtle dish, but is really delicious.
Prep and cooking takes about 30 minutes. Serves two.
Two servings of spaghetti, angel hair, or any other thin pasta
2 large yellow Vidalia or French onions, halved along the equator and sliced thinly
1/2 kilo of green leafy vegetable (we used chard from the local farmer’s market, torn up into smaller pieces, but spinach or kale will do fine)
2 handfuls of walnuts, slightly chopped
4-6 dried figs, finely diced
Shaved parmesan or other strong cheese
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss the butter into a medium-sized saucepan, and when warmed up, slide in all your sliced onions. Take a good ten minutes to stir those onions around until they become translucent and begin to carmelize, taking on a light golden-brown color. Then put them aside into a medium-sized bowl.
At this point, fill another saucepan with water and put in your spaghetti to boil. I’m really bad at measuring spaghetti, but you can estimate about how much you and another person are likely to eat in one sitting, and put in less if you want a higher veggie to pasta ratio. Now, use the same saucepan you did the onions in (you don’t need to wipe it out or rinse) to cook the chard or spinach with a little bit of hot water, stirring it around until it wilts, which should take two or three minutes. Also put in the walnuts at this point. They only need a few minutes, so putting it with the greens is perfect. Definitely add some salt and pepper at this point to taste. When they’re done, put them in the same bowl as the carmelized onions. Your spaghetti should be close to done now.
When everything’s ready, prepare two wide bowls, and put in your spaghetti first. Next, divide the greens, onions, and walnuts between the two bowls. Then scatter your diced figs between the two bowls, and finally, put your shaved parmesan cheese over the whole thing. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. (This is an ideal photo-op moment, because you’re about to stir everything up.) Now, I suggest using two forks to combine well the whole bowl. Burying the cheese will help it to melt and spread more flavor throughout the dish. Enjoy with a good glass of red wine!