So yesterday my family went to charlottesville and as I've recently been craving some sort of fancy dried fruit, when we swung by the wholefoods, I found just the one I'd been thinking of- some dried black mission figs! They are sweet, earthy and wholesome and I thought of the perfect way to use them. In a salad! I didn't want to take away from their flavor in any way so I thought I'd actually use them as a highlight in a fancy salad of sorts.
Scrounging around in the pantry I also found some pine nuts and in the fridge a new block of Pecorino Romano cheese. These ingredients can all be subsituted as follows: the figs with any dried fruit (i.e. dates, cranberries, raisins etc); the pine nuts with any sort of nut that you like (i.e. cashews, walnuts, pecans etc); and the pecorino romano with any sort of dry, salty cheese of your preference although I'd always go with good quality (i.e. parmiggiano reggiano, manchego etc).
So I topped this all off with a healthy, yet intensely flavored balsamic vinaigrette. Vinaigrettes are so much better made at home without conservatives or anything artificial and really easy to make! Mine is a variation on the basic, using whole grain mustard and minced garlic, but feel free to omit either or swap in a type of vinegar that you prefer. Adding any fresh herbs you have on hand also wouldn't hurt. So go ahead, impress some dinner guests, or simply make yourself a delicious, easy, healthy lunch.
Fig, pine nut and spinach salad:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp whole grain dijon mustard (normal dijon works as well)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 cups baby spinach
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted to a light brown
3 dried black mission figs, sliced
1 oz (small hunk) pecorino romano cheese, thinly sliced or grated
1. Mix together the garlic, mustard, balsamic in a small cup or jar. Slowly stream the olive oil in to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toss together salad ingredients, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top, and serve with a slice of french bread.