With deep purple skin and pink flesh, fresh Black Mission figs have a unique texture and sweet flavor. Brush them with olive oil and briefly grill in a grill pan. They make a fabulous, healthy addition to a tossed green salad. Grab some at the market and try this terrific salad before fig season is over.
Figs and Nutrition
Fresh figs have been enjoyed since ancient times. Nutritionally, figs pack fiber, minerals and vitamins into a beautiful little mini pear-shaped package. Figs are delicious plain, but a minute or two in a hot grill pan concentrates their flavors and makes them soft and luscious. Find more nutrition information here.
Figs come in different varieties like Adriatic, Calimyrna, Brown Turkey, Kadota, and Black Mission. Of the different varieties at market, my favorite is the Black Mission fig. I love their dark purple exterior, pink flesh and sweet flavor. Read here for more information on figs and on links below.
Figs are fragile things, so plan to use them within a day or two of purchase. I buy them just barely squeezable to the touch, not too soft, with smooth skin, then refrigerate until I plan to use them.
When ready to make your salad, trim off the figs stem, cut them in half vertically, and brush with a little olive oil. Heat a grill pan over medium high heat and coat the grill pan with a little non-stick spray. Grill the figs, cut side down for 1-2 minutes. Remove them to a plate while you assemble your salad.
Choosing Salad Greens
For the salad greens I chose arugula, also known as rocket. Pleasantly peppery and a little bitter, arugula is actually a cruciferous vegetable. And just like broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the same family, they are rich in compounds and antioxidants that have been linked to many health benefits.
You can find fresh, organic, ready to use baby arugula in the refrigerated section of the produce department (like Earthbound Farms). If you don’t like arugula, choose your favorite dark leaf lettuce.
Adding Interest to Your Salads
To make the salad more interesting and flavorful, you can add “goodies”. What you add will depend on your dietary preferences. Jewel-like dried cranberries add a sweet-tart flavor and beautiful color, but dried fruit has a lot of sugar, so add sparingly.
Nuts make a nice healthy addition to salads. Here I’ve used chopped walnuts. Use raw walnuts, lightly toasted if desired, to bring out their flavor. Skip glazed walnuts. While they taste good, they are coated with sugar.
Lastly, add a little cheese if you enjoy it. Here, a rich English stilton or blue cheese is a classic flavor with the figs. An ounce per person will do.To dress your salad, I’ve included a quick recipe for a honey-balsamic vinaigrette.
Adding a tossed green salad to dinner is a healthy way to get more vegetables into your diet. Adding fruit and nuts boosts nutrition, flavor, and adds lots of color and visual interest. Vary what you put into it and create salads your entire family will enjoy.
Fresh Fig and Green Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 6-8 fresh figs I prefer Black Mission figs, depending on size
- olive oil as needed
- 5 ounces organic baby arugula 142 grams
- 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts 30 grams
- A sprinkle of dried cranberries
- 4 ounces English Stilton cheese blue cheese or Gorgonzola
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Spray with a little non-stick spray or brush with a tiny bit canola oil. Trim the stems off the figs and cut them in half vertically. Brush the cut surface with a little olive oil. Alternatively, place the oil on a small plate and dip the figs in it. Place the figs cut side down on the hot grill pan. Grill for 1-2 minutes, until grill marks appear and the surface is golden or browned. Remove figs to a clean plate or piece of waxed paper.
- Make the vinaigrette by whisking the ingredients together in a small bowl. Place salad greens on plates, add the nuts, cranberries and cheese (if using), add your grilled figs, and drizzle with a little of the vinaigrette. Alternatively, place about half of the vinaigrette in a medium bowl, add the greens and toss to coat with your clean hands. You’ll use less dressing this way. Then add your “goodies” as desired. Serve and enjoy!