Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

salad with fresh figs, avocado, marcona almonds

Mmmm… fresh figs! Late summer and early fall is the height of fig season. Right now in Austin, the grocery stores have been fully stocked with varieties of figs from California that range in color from dark purple to bright green on the outside, to various shades of pink on the inside. They are best when heavy, plump, unblemished, and slightly soft on the outside. Figs that are squishy are probably overripe. Check out this article to learn more about how to choose figs.

Varieties of ripe figs
Varieties of ripe figs. Photo Credit: Photo © Patrizia Savarese/Getty Images

In this recipe, I have chosen to marinate the fennel in citrus, olive oil, and salt before adding it to the salad. This slightly softens the fennel and makes it more flavorful. Fennel bulbs are easy to slice if you first trim the stems and fronds from the bulb, cut into quarters, and then thinly slice each quarter. If the stems are juicy and flavorful, they can also be thinly sliced and added to the marinade.

FennelTrim fennel root and stems. Cut in half.

fennel- quarteredCut each half in half.

Fennel-4Slice off the hard core from each fennel quarter. Slice thinly.

I recommend using a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar that is less acidic and slightly sweet. I used the Central Market brand Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Italy for this recipe. It costs about $16 and can be bought online or in the Austin Central Market stores.

balsamic vinegar

I used a tangerine-infused olive oil from Vom Faas specialty store. You can sub a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can’t find this ingredient.

Be creative and try substituting ingredients that are seasonal in your area. For example, as winter approaches, pomegranates will be in season and can be used instead of figs. Mango can be used in place of oranges, celery for fennel, and toasted pecans for almonds.

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 small or ½ large fresh fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups mixed field greens with baby arugula
  • up to 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • up to 2 tablespoons citrus-infused olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 fresh figs, sliced in quarters
  • 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
  • slices of 1 orange or 2 clementines
  • ¼ cup Marcona almonds (toasted and salted)
  • black pepper, freshly ground (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together fennel, orange juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Allow fennel to marinate for at least 20 minutes. This step can also be done up to one day ahead, storing the fennel mixture covered in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad.
  2. Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Spread evenly onto large platter or into large salad bowl.
  3. Drizzle greens with balsamic vinegar and citrus-infused olive oil. Top greens with marinated fennel, figs, avocado, orange or clementine slices, and Marcona almonds.
  4. Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Variation
  1. Use mango chunks in place of orange slices.

Salad at Sami & Lorraines (3)

Bon appetit!

Greek Salad with Creamy Cashew-Dill Dressing

Greek Salad with Creamy Cashew-Dill Dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 6 cups romaine lettuce, rinsed, spun, and chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced (or 1 cup grape tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ¾ kalamata olives, halved
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced
Dressing
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour
  • ½ cup spring or filtered water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt, to taste
Instructions
Salad
  1. Place greens onto a platter or individual salad bowls. Decorate greens with tomato slices, cucumber slices, olives, and red onion.
Dressing
  1. Drain cashews and discard soaking water.
  2. Blend cashews in blender or VitaMix with water, garlic, scallions, lemon juice, and umeboshi vinegar until smooth.
  3. With blender on low speed, add in olive oil and blend until incorporated.
  4. Add dill, mint, and oregano and blend on low for a few seconds.
  5. Add a pinch or two of sea salt, if needed, to balance flavors.
  6. Pour dressing into a bowl or creamer to serve alongside salad.
Variation
  1. Serve with goat feta or homemade tofu feta cheese on the side.

 

Winter salad with dried figs, pomegranate, avocado, and pecans

The inspiration for this salad came from the earth’s bounty in December in the South. The contrasting colors, flavors, and textures from the fruits, nuts, and greens make an irresistible combination. You will need to get the seeds out of a pomegranate for this recipe. My favorite, least technical, and least messy way to do this involves cutting the pomegranate in half, submerging the halves in a bowl of water, and gently opening each half and removing seeds under the water (see method 3 in wikiHow article: http://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-Pomegranate). It is well worth the effort. The extra seeds keep well for later, refrigerated in a glass container. The kumquats are optional in this recipe, but are a fun ingredient to use when they come into season in the wintertime. The entire fruit is edible, and in fact the peel is sweet and the inside is sour (the opposite of an orange). Look for kumquats that are firm, as they should be juicier.

Winter salad with dried figs, pomegranate, avocado, and pecans
 
Prep time
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This salad is perfect for holiday gatherings or any meal that needs a colorful side dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 4 cups mixed field greens or baby arugula
  • 4 dried figs, soaked in warm water
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
  • ¼ cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 2 kumquats, thinly sliced (optional)
Maple Balsamic Dressing
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange or tangerine juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic, minced (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
Salad
  1. Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Place on large platter or into large salad bowl. Drain figs and slice thinly, removing any tough stems. Decorate greens with fig slices, pomegranate seeds, avocado chunks, and toasted pecan halves. Garnish with kumquat slices, if desired.
Dressing
  1. Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Gradually whisk in olive oil, one drop at a time, until well incorporated.

 

 

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce

Serve this easy fish dish with some basmati rice and some steamed green beans for an elegant evening meal.

Spend less time cooking and more time kissing!

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Flaky Crusted Pan-Fried Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 oz halibut fillet
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • fresh basil, chiffonade, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine flour and salt in a shallow dish.
  2. Dredge halibut fillet on both sides in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and hold on a plate.
  3. Heat heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high flame for about one minute.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and immediately place halibut in the pan, flesh side down. Turn heat down to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes without disturbing the fish to allow a crust to form. Turn the fish over so it is skin side down and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove fillet onto a serving plate while making the sauce.
  5. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan with the capers. Sauté for about a minute, then add white wine. Let simmer until alcohol cooks off and sauce has reduced by at least one half. Add butter and stir until it is incorporated into the sauce.
  6. Pour sauce over the fish and garnish with fresh basil.

 

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