Olema Inn Grilled Fig and Mâche Salad

The Olema Inn & Restaurant serves this warm salad with local figs from Blackberry Farm in Bolinas and Red Hawk Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. This dish is also delicious with grilled seasonal stone fruits and other washed-rind cheeses.

1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
6 allspice berries
1 star anise pod
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup hazelnut oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound mâche
8 figs, stemmed and halved
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces Cowgirl Creamery
Red Hawk Cheese (Port Salut or Pont L’Eveque may be substituted)
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4  cup toasted hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped

For the vinaigrette
Combine the vinegar and spices in a small stainless-steel pan and simmer over low heat until steam rises. Remove from heat, stir in the brown sugar and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain into a small bowl and discard the spices. Gradually whisk in the hazelnut and olive oils. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill, preheat a gas oven to 375ºF, or heat a grill pan over medium heat. Rub 1 teaspoon of oil on the grill or pan. Season the figs with 1 teaspoon of oil, salt and pepper. Grill the figs, skin side down, until the centers of the figs begin to bubble, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat on the other side. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Cut the cheese into thin wedges and place 2 wedges on each of 4 salad plates. Place 4 fig halves next to the cheese. Combine the mâche, onion, fennel and hazelnuts in a large bowl. Lightly dress the salad, tossing to just coat the leaves. Mound in the center of the salad plates. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette around the salad plate and serve.

Serves 4 as a first course.

Toasting and Peeling Hazelnuts
To toast and skin hazelnuts, preheat an oven to 350ºF. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a large colander and use a tea towel to vigorously rub most of the skins off the hazelnuts. The skins will fall through the holes in the colander.

Organic Marin: Recipes from Land to Table

Written and photographed by Tim Porter and Farina Wong Kingsley, and produced by Marin Magazine, this is a seasonal cookbook that celebrates the organic farmers and ranchers of Marin County. Flavor will feature a recipe from Organic Marin each month. The book can be purchased at local bookstores or by going to marinmagazine.com/organicmarin.