Fig and Berry Salad with Port-Balsamic-Vanilla Glaze
Late July heralds the beginning 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 cottage gardens, holding onto the memory of warm figs harvested from trees in sun-baked gardens and hillsides. Although I love fresh figs, 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 though after sampling this dish, they converted. Granted, their texture isn’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.
I created this recipe around the glaze that is so good it would turn chopped cardboard 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.
- 6 - 10 figs, based on size, cut in halves
- 8 - 10 strawberries, cut in halves
- 1 medium-head butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried (can use arugula or mixed baby greens if preferred)
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup roasted Marcona almonds*
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup blue cheese or gorgonzola crumbles
- 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.
- Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over the fruits and lettuce. Serve with the glaze available for adding more to plates if needed.
- I created this recipe around the glaze that is so good that would make chopped cardboard 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. 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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