Holiday Dinner Thyme – Part II of III: Appetizer and Main

I hope Part I’s Buttered Rum & Cranberry Popcorn and Kale Chips recipes are making you hungry! Let’s keep the holiday spirits high and move onto appetizer and main course recipes: Prosciutto Wrapped Stuffed Figs with Balsamic Vinegar Glaze & Provencal Rack of Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes.

The dynamic tastes & textures of the stuffed figs truly makes it a wonderful starter.  Also as a hostess favorite, these figs can be pre-assembled ahead of time and baked just before serving!

Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

I’ve tried making this original Todd English recipe with smoked ham and prosciutto; based on the structural integrity and taste of the end product (as well as presentability) I have to recommend using Prosciutto – other modifications below.


Serves 8

– 16 fresh Black Mission figs, cut off stem, exposing small section flesh, quarter through the stem end, leave root end intact

– 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (see Note)

– 16 paper-thin slices Prosciutto

– 2 tablespoon olive oil

– 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

– 1 teaspoon kosher salt

– 1 teaspoon black pepper

– 1  1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (to make glaze)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.
  2. Stuff each fig with 1/2 tablespoon of Gorgonzola. (I’ve found the figs not really being able to hold more than ½ tbsp and that amount is perfect for each serving)
  3. Wrap each fig with a slice of Proscuitto and top with the oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper mixture.
  4. Place the figs in a greased medium-size baking pan. Bake until the figs are gooey on the inside and charred on the outside, soft but still firm, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling until it reduces to about ¼ of the original volume, about 20 minutes. The vinegar will start to glisten, thicken, and taste much sweeter than the original liquid. (YUM!!!!)
  6. As soon as the figs come out of the oven, pour the hot glaze over them. Serve immediately.

NOTE: You can substitute Roquefort, Danish blue, or ricotta cheese for the Gorgonzola.

Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

This Epicurious Provencal Rack of Lamb recipe has accompanied me through many Holidays and has never failed to impress – while the lamb itself is delicious, the potatoes and tomatoes are equally key. I double the amount of the garlic, thyme, rosemary rub so I have enough to cover as much surface area as I can to give the tomatoes and meat a nice crispy top. For the potatoes, I use a mandoline slicer to get a thin even cut.

Provencal Rack of Lamb

I prefer to have the potatoes go in the oven the same time as the tomatoes to get it cooked slightly before I place the lamb on top and finish the dish off.  Recipe and modifications reflected below:


Serves 8

– 16 garlic cloves

– 16 teaspoons chopped thyme

– 8 teaspoon chopped rosemary

– 20 tablespoons olive oil, divided

– 8 medium tomatoes, halved  OR 32 – 40 cocktail tomatoes (while smaller, the flavor of cocktail tomatoes is well worth the extra cutting effort when regular tomatoes aren’t in season)

– 4 pounds frenched rack of lamb (4 chops per person, 1 rack usually has about 8 chops)

– 8 medium shallots, thinly sliced (1 1/3 cup)

– 8 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick

– 8 tablespoons water


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
  2. Mince and mash garlic to a paste with 4 teaspoon salt and 4 teaspoon pepper. Stir together with chopped Thyme, Rosemary, and 16 tablespoons oil.
  3. Pat lamb dry and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown lamb on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer lamb to a cutting board.
  4. Put tomatoes cut sides up in an oiled baking dish and top with a third of garlic mixture.
  5. Rub half of remaining garlic mixture on fat side of lamb racks.
  6. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium heat and cook shallots and potatoes, stirring occasionally, until edges are browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in water and remaining garlic mixture and remove from heat.
  7. In an oiled baking dish, arrange sliced potatoes / shallot mix (single layer as best you can). Roast for about 15 minutes then arrange lamb over potatoes and roast in oven, medium 35 – 40 minutes (medium rare 25 – 30 minutes).
  8. Place oiled baking dish with tomatoes in oven. Roast until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  9. Let stand, loosely covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with tomatoes.

Roasted Tomatoes Roasted Rack of Lamb

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