There is tradition and there is innovation. And in between? For a taste of modern Spanish cuisine, I scour local food publications and the recipe supplements of popular women’s magazines. “Spanish women,” says my friend Toni Monné, editorial director of a Barcelona-based magazine group that publishes the wildly popular Cocina Fácil, “are no different from women all over the world. They work, they play, they tend to their families. When they cook, they want something attractive, healthy, and easy. Spanish for sure, but also worldly and modern.” The recipe here, which I adapted from one of his magazines, captures this spirit.
The salsita—a kind of uncooked compote of sliced figs and onion, steeped in sherry and vinegar and tossed at the last moment with mint and almonds—is so yummy, consider making an extra batch. It also works great made with sliced plums.
GRILLED CHICKEN WITH FRESH FIG SALSITA
8 to 9 smallish, ripe but firm fresh purple figs, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, preferably aged, or more to taste if figs are very sweet
3 tablespoons fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 boneless chicken breast halves (each 8 ounces) either skinless or with the skin, rinsed and patted dry
¼ cup lightly toasted slivered almonds
¼ cup finely slivered fresh mint
- Place the figs, onion, sherry, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a bowl and toss to mix. Let the salsita stand for 30 minutes.
- Light the grill and preheat it to high or preheat the broiler.
- Place the garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper in a mortar and, using a pestle, mash them to a paste.
- Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Brush the chicken with some of the garlic paste.
- Grill or broil the chicken until lightly charred and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning it once and brushing it a few times with the remaining garlic paste.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for about 5 minutes.
- Slice the chicken on the diagonal into thick slices and arrange on a serving platter.
- Add the almonds and mint to the salsita and toss to mix.
- Season the salsita lightly with salt, then transfer it to a serving dish.
- Serve the chicken at once, accompanied by the salsita.