What can I say about this one? It’s a salad. It’s simple. But it’s the perfect end-of-summer salad that combines the sweetness of fresh figs and caramelised onions with the slight nuttiness and bitterness of arugula and the tangy, saltiness of Parmesan cheese. A very simple salad that I realize hardly needs a recipe – but sometimes we just need a little inspiration, am I right?
One day, whilst on holiday, I whipped up this salad out of necessity to use up some figs that were going squishy in the refrigerator (turns out, those squishy ones are the best figs, by the way) and my boyfriend said he loved it and that it “tasted like he was eating dessert”…and I figured that was a very good thing to be said about a salad, as dessert and salad are not usually equated as such. So, here we are. I wouldn’t keep a ‘recipe’ for a simple and delicious cake-y sweet salad that can both satisfy your sweet cravings AND get some healthy green stuff and fruit in your body at the same time from you, now would I?
Note: Real Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian since it is produced with rennet. If you follow a strictly vegetarian diet, the cheese can easily be replaced by a vegetarian option.
This salad serves about 4 as a side salad, or 2 as a main.
Fresh fig and Caramelised Onion Salad with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese
- 8 fresh, very ripe figs, quartered
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 100g arugula, washed
- 60g Parmigiano Reggiano
- Toast the pumpkin seeds: Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the pumpkin seeds and toast them for about 2 – 3 minutes until they start to make popping sounds and start to get nice and toasty. Set seeds aside for later use.
- Caramelise the onions: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the small frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the thinly sliced onion. Sauté until well caramelised for about 10 minutes (it’s okay and even encouraged to get some of the onions slightly charred). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Make the simple dressing: In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.
- Dress the salad: Add the arugula to the bowl with the dressing (or the other way around). Toss to coat. Add the caramelised onions and quartered figs.
- To serve, generously shave thick curls of the Parmesan cheese over the top of the salad (you can do this with a vegetable peeler) and sprinkle on the toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.