When figs are in season, we can’t think of anything better to pair them with than a creamy cheese and caramelized nuts — the flavors of a rich cheese and a sweet, ripe fig are exceptional partners. The runny texture and bright flavor of burrata, a fresh Italian cheese with a center of thick cream encased in a shell of mozzarella, is perfect for this starter.
Smashed Figs with Walnuts and Burrata
For a more substantial (and less messy) starter, add slices of fruit-nut bread, torn pieces of crusty country bread or firm, nutty crackers to the platter.
For the caramelized walnuts:
1 Tbs. honey
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g.) walnut halves
1 pt. (8 oz./250 g.) ripe figs, halved or quartered lengthwise and lightly smashed with the side of a chef’s knife
1 ball burrata cheese, 8 to 10 oz. (250 to 315 g.)
Fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
To make the caramelized walnuts, in a small fry pan over medium-high heat, combine the honey, 1 tablespoon water and the salt and stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Add the nuts and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a plate and spread them in a single layer to cool. When cool, break up any clumps.
Spread the caramel-coated nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Arrange the figs, cheese and caramelized nuts on a platter. Drizzle some of the olive oil over the burrata and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Instruct diners to spread some of the cheese on a fig half, then top it with a caramelized walnut. Serves 4 to 6.