Luscious ripe figs go so well with lean Parma ham, and make an elegant little starter salad. In this delectable version, the vitamin content is boosted with the addition of green beans and bulb fennel, plus some fresh pineapple for an unexpected touch of tangy sweetness.
For a hot grilled fig salad with ricotta, arrange the fig halves, cut side up, in a grill pan and sprinkle with 1–2 tsp sugar. Grill until the figs are warmed through and lightly browned and caramelised. Place the figs on the bean salad and dot them with 75 g (2½ oz) ricotta cheese. Instead of Parma ham and pineapple, cut 1 juicy, ripe dessert pear into matchstick strips, and pile next to the figs, with 30 g (1 oz) fresh Parmesan cheese shavings.
Fresh pineapple contains a substance called bromelain, a digestive enzyme that can break down proteins and can be used to tenderise meat. There is some evidence to suggest that bromelain may help to break up blood clots and therefore may be helpful in protecting against heart disease. Bromelain has an anti-inflammatory action and has been used in the treatment of arthritis. It is also believed to speed up the repair of damaged tissues.
B1, B6, E, niacin * C