Eat Like A Local: Fig & Arugula Salad
One thing we never had growing up in Maine were fruit trees (beyond apples, that is.) I, obviously, had no idea what I was missing.
Last year, a couple of months after we moved to LA, friends of ours bought a house and with it came a yard filled with fruit trees. They have lemons, Mexican sweet limes, oranges, loquats, pomegranates, and figs. It’s amazing. Luckily, they aren’t all in season at the same time!
Earlier this week, I went to help harvest some of their figs. They are so sweet and delicious! If you have never had a fresh fig, they are amazing. (I also realize that it’s nearly impossible to get an amazing fig in the northeast as they just don’t grow as well there.) I left our friend’s house with 5 pounds of fresh figs (!!) and a plan to can, preserve, and eat them as quickly as possible!
Before we get into what I actually made, let’s talk about figs! There are several different types of figs, including the black mission figs that I helped to harvest. When you harvest figs, you should pick them from the tree when they are dark in color (for black mission figs) and slightly soft. Figs will not continue to ripen if picked when they are still green. You will also only have a couple of days to work with them before they spoil.
To eat them, you simply cut off the stems, was them, and then you can eat them whole, skin and all! The inside has pink-colored flesh that has tiny seeds in it (similar to a strawberry or raspberry) and is so sweet!
Why Should I Eat Figs?
Figs are a good source of potassium, which helps to control blood pressure. If you eat a diet high in sodium or processed foods, you may be lacking in potassium. Eating fruit, like figs, is a great way to add more potassium into your diet to help lower your blood pressure. Eating them in their whole form will be most beneficial, though we know that jams and chutneys are obviously delicious!
Figs are also a good source of fiber, which, as we know, can help with weight management.
What are some ways to preserve figs?
I’m so glad you asked! With 5 pounds lying around, I had to act fast! I’m very new to canning and preserving, but I wanted to find a few ways to be able to savour these figs long after the season had passed. I made a Fig Chutney, a Fig Jam (Well Preserved is an amazing resource!), and a Fig Syrup (I’m dreaming about using this on some pancakes or over some dairy-free ice cream…) I also used the leftover fig pulp from the syrup to make thumbprint-inspired cookies. Other things I read about (but haven’t tried yet): pickling figs, and making fig sorbet. I think both would be amazing!
Best if fresh!
For the health benefits, fruit is always best in it’s natural form. You can easily get the fiber and nutrients this way without any added sugar. So today I give you a super easy, super summery fig salad! I hope this will inspire you to grab some figs if you haven’t had any yet this summer, or to use some from your tree (lucky duck!) to eat them in a delicious way!
Fig & Arugula Salad
1 handful spinach, washed
1 handful arugula, washed
1-2 TBSP pine nuts, lightly toasted (be careful! They burn quickly!)
2 fresh figs, washed, stem removed, and sliced
Wash and spin dry spinach and arugula. Toast pine nuts either in toaster oven or stovetop in a dry pan until lightly toasted (this only takes a couple of minutes-- watch closely!) Slice figs into small, easy to eat sections and layer over salad greens. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and drizzle with top-quality balsamic vinegar. Enjoy as a side to your favorite summer meals or become the envy of your coworkers and take with you for lunch!