From: Chef Kristine Subido, Pecking Order, Chicago. Yield: 6 servings.
6 thin slices fruit and nut baguette, drizzled with olive oil and salt
2 cups dried black mission figs, quartered
3 cups red wine
1 oz. shallots, chopped
¼ cup fig vincotto vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 cup canola oil-olive oil blend
12 oz. bread cheese or other juustoleipa cheese
2 ripe Anjou pears, seeded and julienned
8 oz. baby arugula or mixed salad greens
For croutons: Heat oven to 325°F. Make fruit and nut toast croutons by slicing the bread, drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling it with salt. Bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
For figs: Combine figs and wine in a small sauce pot and simmer until figs are soft, about 15 minutes. Turn heat off and reserve figs in wine. Chill.
For dressing: Combine shallots and vinegar in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil-canola oil blend until emulsified. Season to taste.
For cheese: Heat oven or broiler to 375°F. Cut bread cheese into 3 equal pieces. Place the cheese on a cookie sheet and bake until soft, about 5 minutes.
For final preparation: Drain figs, reserving the wine. Combine pears, figs and arugula. Toss with dressing; season to taste. Divide among 6 salad plates. Place a crouton on each salad. Top each with ½ slice of warm cheese. Season with pepper and drizzle reserved red wine over salad. Serve immediately.