Figs. Aren’t they perfectly lovely? They’re everywhere now, and they are so delicious. I have bathed them (along with stone fruit) in spiced red wine, roasted them with brown sugar and a little rosewater, and sliced them into salads. Here is a hearty fig and grain salad (spoiler alert: it’s farro) It also combines a few of a fig’s favorite flavor pals: citrus, walnuts, cheese, mint.
You can think of this as another template for salad-making. A hearty grain combines with complimentary vegetables, fruits, and herbs, gets a boost of protein and richness with soft cheese, and crunch from toasted nuts. Finish off with a judicious application of citrus vinaigrette, and there you have it. It’s a salad that can stand on its own at lunch or pair with your choice of fish, poultry, or meat at dinner. If it’s not fig season where you live, substitute dried fruit, such as raisins or currants. Wheat berries or a combination of long-grain and wild rice make a good foundation. Celery is a good addition for crunch, along with walnuts or almonds. Soft cheese such as mozzarella is perfect, and parsley or scallions can replace the mint. So use your imagination and whatever ingredients you have on hand and build your own hearty salad. Aim for balance in texture, seasoning, color, and flavor and you will be rewarded with a delicious result.
A Fresh Fig Salad
- ⅔ cup farro
- 1⅓ cup water
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup finely diced red onion
- 1 teaspoon finely-grated lemon zest
- ½ cup small-dice Persian or seedless cucumber
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts
- ¼ to ⅓ cup small-dice Gouda cheese
- 8 ounces fresh figs, 4 or 5, stemmed and quartered or sliced (depending on size)
- A handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn into pieces
- Place the farro and water in a medium, heavy pot and bring to a boil. Season with a good pinch of salt and cover. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the grain is tender, but still firm. This will take from 15 to 40 minutes, depending upon whether the grain is pearled. When done, drain any remaining liquid and transfer the farro to a salad bowl.
- While the farro cooks, combine the vinegar, orange juice and honey with a big pinch of salt. Whisk in the olive oil and check for seasoning. Adjust with more salt, acid, or oil to your taste. Set aside.
- When the farro has cooled, add all the remaining ingredients to the salad bowl. Spoon in about 4 or 5 tablespoons of the dressing and toss gently. Check for seasoning and add more dressing and salt and pepper, if you like. If you are not serving the salad immediately, reserve a little dressing to add later. Present the salad, garnished with additional mint. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for 2 to 3 days.