Seductively sweet figs, creamy chèvre, crunchy candied walnuts, and crisp red peppers are tossed with peppery arugula and dressed with a simple fig vinaigrette... Fig and Arugula Salad With Chèvre and Candied Walnuts is a stunning fall salad and perfect for your holiday table!
The fig is a very secretive fruit.
As you see it standing growing,
you feel at once it is symbolic: And it seems male.
But when you come to know it better,
you agree with the Romans, it is female.
~~ D.H. Lawrence
Feature Ingredient: Fresh Figs
From the early Greeks bestowal of figs and fig leaves to Olympic athletes and scriptural references throughout the Bible to its use in modern and contemporary literature, figs have held a special position in food and culture transcending time and civilizations. And with good reason.
There is nothing like the unique taste and texture of a ripe, fresh fig IMHO. 😊 I love the smooth skin, the sweet slightly chewy flesh, and the crunch of the seeds.
Visually, they're show-stoppers. Do you eat with your eyes? I certainly do. One look at my Fig and Arugula Salad With Chevre and Candied Walnuts, and my mouth is watering.
Health Benefits of Figs
Given my appreciation for not only delicious but nutritious food, I would be remiss not to mention the health benefits of figs. They are loaded with potassium, a mineral that helps to balance sodium in controlling high blood pressure, and they are rich in other minerals and vitamins as well as fiber.
Figs have no fats and low in calories, making them a perfect snack. One large fig has just 47 calories! For more specific information, see The Health Benefits of Figs.
Using Fresh Figs
Figs, unfortunately, are very delicate, and don't transport well. They do not ripen after harvest, so avoid any fruit that is not ripe. They will keep in the refrigerator for only a couple of days, so I typically have a plan for them when I purchase them.
Our market sells them in a carton much like an egg carton, with one dozen (almost always) perfect figs. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to cut a little slit in each fig, and insert a bit of bleu cheese. The figs then get wrapped in very thinly sliced Italian meat such as prosciutto or soppressata, and grilled. Oh my goodness! They are delicious...
Making Fig and Arugula Salad With Chèvre and Candied Walnuts
Before I chase anymore rabbits, let's talk about this simple fall salad. The fig vinaigrette comes together so quickly in a personal blender. I almost always make my own salad dressings; why spoil a beautiful fresh salad with a bottle dressing loaded with things you struggle to pronounce?
- Mission figs cut in half lengthwise
- walnuts and sugar to candy them
- sweet red pepper
- fresh arugula
- fig preserves or jam
- apple cider vinegar
- olive oil
- dijon mustard
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
This dressing features fig preserves or fig chutney, olive oil, apple cider or sherry vinegar, dijon mustard, and sea salt and fresh ground pepper. That's really all there is to it! The ingredients get pulsed a few times in the blender, and tossed with the salad just prior to serving. I always make my salad dressings first, then proceed with the salad ingredients.
The Candied Walnuts
I love textural variation in my salads, and we love the addition of some quick candied walnuts to a fruit-based green salad.
- Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of sugar (I like raw), and heat it until it melts. Take care to not burn the sugar.
- Add the walnuts, and stir with a spatula until completely coated.
- Drop them on a suitably sized piece of foil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow them to cool while the salad is assembled.
- Once the candied walnuts are completely cool, rough chop them.
The rest is just standard salad chopping and slicing. We love generous bowls of salad, but you can adjust this to suit your appetites. I use this basic "template" for many of my salads - fresh greens, fruit, nuts, cheese, and a complementary homemade dressing. It's hard to beat a salad like this one!