Fall can’t rain on late-summer produce parade

In my defense, the weather was a balmy 80-something degrees last week when I planned this week’s food section. Who could have predicted fall would arrive with such force?

But, like many readers, I still have plenty of late-summer produce to consume. There are garden green beans and chilies in my refrigerator, Brandywine tomatoes on my kitchen counter and — thanks to the generosity of a friend — luscious brown turkey figs ripening more rapidly than I can eat them. All that is perfect fodder for some of the late-season salad recipes that ran in today’s A la Carte.

Inspiration comes effortlessly in this transition from season to season, as Nora LaBrocca pointed out in this week’s story. She’s bridging summer and autumn this week at her Downtown Market Co. with a zucchini timbale on fall greens. I’m inclined to enjoy the last green beans and some marble-sized French fingerling potatoes from my garden as a salade Nicoise with those luscious tomatoes.

The figs also will have a place in salads, if not simply sliced than pureed into balsamic vinaigrette once they get a tad too squishy. But the first few dozen deserved simplicity.

For Sunday night’s light supper, I halved about 10, nestled them together, split-sides up, in a flameproof pan and broiled them just until they started to caramelize. Then I sprinkled them with Gorgonzola cheese, which melted from the heat of the fruit, followed by a few toasted pine nuts.

And because I had about a pint of ricotta cheese to use up, I whipped up a quick tart with refrigerated pie crust that I blind-baked, then filled with a mixture of the ricotta, cream cheese, sugar and egg yolks, based on a recipe the paper published last year. A splash of orange-blossom water enlivened the basic ingredients in the absence of orange zest and juice. I refrigerated the baked tart overnight and topped it the next evening with halved figs, warm honey and toasted almonds.

If they aren’t pretty enough to serve raw after all this rain, figs also could be folded into muffins like these with goat cheese and fresh herbs.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Fig Muffins

2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped

2 eggs

6 tablespoons butter, melted

3⁄4 cup whole milk

1⁄2 cup sour cream

8 ounces soft goat cheese (such as chevre)

1⁄2 cup grated firm goat cheese (such as landana)

3⁄4 cup chopped dried figs

Heat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or coat with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the herbs, eggs, butter, milk and sour cream. Crumble the soft goat cheese into egg mixture and stir in the grated goat cheese and figs. Add to flour mixture and gently fold together until just incorporated.

Divide batter among prepared muffin tins (they will be quite full). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven or until golden and center springs back when lightly pressed. Remove muffins from pan and cool.

Makes 12 muffins.

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