Eating fresh figs in Dubai is a rather decadent experience. Hard to find and usually expensive, I only buy a few at a time when they are in season from July to October. As much as I love washing the fruit and eating it straight, I know that sharing is important and a great way to stretch a small amount of figs between many people is to cut them into wedges and serve them in a salad.
I recently made a salad using fresh figs, Puy lentils, goat’s cheese, pine nuts and dark green leaves tossed in maple vinaigrette dressing. It was a delicious accompaniment to a roast lamb dinner served on the border just between summer and autumn.
FIG, LENTIL AND GOAT’S CHEESE SALAD WITH MAPLE VINAIGRETTE
(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
3 fresh figs
85g / 3 oz / 4 cups (loosely packed) dark green leaves (ie. rocket/arugula, chard, spinach or a mix)
100g / 3.5 oz dried Puy lentils (or 200g cooked Puy lentils)
60g / 2 oz crumbly goat’s cheese
3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
- Prepare the salad dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shaking well. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside.
- Wash and dry your green leaves. A salad spinner or a tea towel work well to remove excess water. Set aside.
- Cook your Puy lentils by simmering them in a pot of salted water (I also add a dried bay leaf to the water if I have it) for 15-20 minutes. See my step-by-step guide (with pictures) on How To Cook Puy Lentils. When done, the lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain the lentils (discard the water) and allow to cool. Set aside.
- Toast your pine nuts in a dry pan on low-medium heat for about 8-10 minutes. I use a small cast iron pan. Toss the pine nuts once in a while with a wooden spoon to make sure they toast evenly. Allow to cool on a plate and set aside.
- Wash and dry the figs. Remove the stalks on top and cut the figs into quarters or sixths, depending on their size. Set aside.
- To assemble the salad, loosely toss the cooled lentils and the green leaves in a large bowl.
- Place the tossed lentils and green leaves on a flat serving platter.
- Scatter your figs, toasted pine nuts and crumbled cheese on top.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- When you are ready to serve, drizzle the maple vinaigrette dressing on top of the salad. You may not need to use all of the dressing.