I made this salad for Rosh Hashana dinner a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit. I had wanted to showcase fresh figs which I adore but don't see much of in the Midwest. For this fairly easy yet impressive salad, I roasted the figs in the oven with rosemary and olive oil, which deepened their flavor and infused them with the savory elements of fresh rosemary. After the figs had been roasted all that was left was to toast the walnuts, whip up a quick balsamic vinaigrette and toss it all together with arugula and shaved manchego cheese. The bitter, astringent, peppery and tangy flavors of those ingredients work to balance the sweetness of the figs. —JackieK
fresh figs, stemmed and quartered lengthwise
minced fresh rosemary
extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
arugula, rinsed and drained
recipe balsamic vinaigrette
Manchego cheese, preferably 6 months raw milk
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Arrange the walnut pieces on a baking sheet and place in the heated oven. Baked until the walnuts are lightly toasted, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the walnuts because they can burn quickly.
Remove the walnuts from the baking sheet and set aside to cool. Wipe the baking sheet clean and increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Set the quartered figs on the baking sheet and toss with the fresh rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange figs in a single layer with the skin side down. Roast the figs until soft and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet to room temperature.
To assemble the salad, toss the arugula, toasted walnuts and roasted figs with half the balsamic vinaigrette. Pour the remaining vinaigrette into a small bowl or serving dish. Use a vegetable peeler to slice thin strips of Manchego cheese and scatter over the salad. Serve the salad and drizzle individual portions with more balsamic vinaigrette if desired.
Make the dressing by whisking together the Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Once well-combined, slowly pour in the oil while whisking vigorously to create an emulsion. Season to taste with the sugar. Note: this vinaigrette will be thick.