Note: Donna Deane was inspired by specialties of France, Spain and Denmark while developing ideas for an article on open-faced sandwiches. Here she combines Manchego, the Spanish cheese, now widely available, with our local Mission figs for a summery treat.
1/4 cup sweet white wine such as
6 black Mission figs, cut in half
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cups sliced onions, 1/4 -inch thick
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices organic multi-grain bread, toasted
3 ounces shaved Manchego cheese
Fleur de sel
1. In a small saucepan, heat the Muscat to warm and pour it over the fig halves in a bowl. Let the figs stand 30 minutes to marinate.
2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the sliced onions, then stir in sugar, thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and slowly cook until the onions are golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the onions warm.
3. Brush both sides of the bread slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Grill until lightly toasted, about 1 to 2 minutes, then turn and toast 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Keep warm.
4. Drain the figs and place them on a paper towel. Brush the cut side of the figs with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and put the figs cut-side down on a heated grill pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Turn the figs and grill another 2 to 3 minutes until the figs are tender yet retain their shape.
5. Divide the warm caramelized onions onto toasted bread slices on a baking sheet. Top with shavings of Manchego. Put the sandwiches under the broiler just until the cheese begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Top each sandwich with three fig halves and a sprinkle of fleur de sel on each fig. Serve immediately.