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Fig and Berry Salad with Port-Balsamic-Vanilla Glaze

Although the first figs may come in sometime in June, late July heralds the second round of the US fig season. In Europe, most especially Italy, everyone who can, has a fig tree. Italian immigrants who came to the US in the late 19th and early 20th century, planted them in barrels in apartment courtyards and in cottage gardens, holding onto the memory of warm figs harvested from trees in sun-baked gardens and hillsides.

I love fresh figs and assumed most everyone enjoys them fresh, dried, in desserts or as a thick spread with cheese, I was surprised that they aren’t on the radar of many Americans. When I offered some of this spectacular salad to my neighbors, several said they had never eaten figs or they tried them as kids and didn’t like them. However, after sampling this seductive salad, they converted!
Granted, their thick skins and seedy texture aren’t the most child-friendly, but if this was your experience, I highly recommend trying them again as an adult as you may discover how special they actually are. There are a number of varieties. The above figs are California Mission Figs. Last week I used green and yellow striped Tiger Figs. Turkey figs are very plump and delicious as are Kadota figs. Any variety works. You could also substitute peaches for the figs or other types of berries. I often include cucumber slices or radishes in the salad.


This Glaze is the Best!
I created this recipe around the glaze that is so good it would turn chopped cardboard into a delicacy! It’s simple to make and keeps very well refrigerated. It’s not just for figs and berries either. Imagine it on a roasted pork tenderloin, poached chicken breast or salmon, and even grilled mushrooms and lightly grilled firm tofu. I’ve added chicken to this salad to make it a main course with great success. I have served it twice so far this summer. The first was with friends and it was complemented with a North African tajine. Last week I served it alongside lamb chops. My guests wanted to slather it over their lamb as well as with the salad. It’s an amazingly versatile glaze.

I used Point Reyes Blue Cheese (featured above) as I like textures and bold flavors with this salad. Any blue cheese or gorgonzola will work. If you aren’t fond of assertive cheeses, consider a mild goat or sheep’s milk cheese instead.

After assembling the salad, drizzle the glaze over all then serve the glaze in a bowl in case more is needed.

Print

Fig and Berry Salad with Port-Balsamic-Vanilla Glaze

Scale

Ingredients

  • 610 figs, based on size, cut in halves
  • 810 strawberries, cut in halves
  • 1 medium-head butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried (can use arugula or mixed baby greens if preferred)
  • 1/31/2 cup roasted Marcona almonds*
  • 1/31/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles
  • The Best Port-Balsamic-Vanilla Glaze, to taste

Instructions

  1. Using a platter or individual salad plates, layer lettuce leaves, using 1 – 1-1/2 leaves per person. Add figs and strawberries decoratively, then add almonds evenly. Sprinkle cheese over the mixture.
  2. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over the fruits and lettuce. Serve with the glaze available for adding more to plates if needed.

Notes

I created this recipe around the glaze that is so good it will bring you to your knees! It’s simple to make and keeps very well refrigerated. It’s not just for figs and berries either. Imagine it on a roasted pork tenderloin, poached chicken breast or salmon, and even grilled mushrooms and lightly grilled firm tofu. In fact, I’ve added chicken to this salad to make it a main course with great success.

* Marcona almonds can be found at specialty food stores.

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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.

Comments (1)

  • Kathy

    |

    Will this taste the same if I substitute your vanilla sugar for the sugar and the bean? I always have that on hand, but don’t always have the beans.

    Reply

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