We just got back from a very relaxing vacation. It was to a place we used to go with my Dad as kids. Not a thing has changed, our old Archie comics were still boxed up in the attic, the spinning clothes line where we used hang our stuffed animals and pretend they were on a carnival ride is still there, and the kitchen stool that my three sisters and I would stack onto for our annual picture had had a fresh coat of paint but was still there too.
It was amazing, I felt like I was eight again (until I had to clean my daughter’s first poo explosion with the actual antique washing equipment and hang it on the carnival ride to dry –my stuffed animals def never did that).
We didn’t do too much; picked blackberries (there were so many), took naps (mostly the little one), swam in the ocean, pushed my way through a terrible book (which always feels heroic and dumb all at the same time) and played sloping backyard badminton, but on a whole, it was very relaxing and just what we needed.
We also visited some friends who had a beautiful shared veggie garden. They gave us some of their plump and juicy green figs, which were the very best I’ve ever had. My husband claimed never to have had a fig before that moment, and I didn’t even argue it (you guys. he obviously has), because they were 100% more delicious and memorable than any fig we had enjoyed before.
There may have been a secret ingredient making these figs extra special (rumour has it there may have been a placenta buried under the tree…) (isn’t that AWESOME?!) but I posted a picture on Instagram and one of my insta friends then posted a whole box of the same fat green figs that friends of hers had grown in Whistler. Has it just been the summer of the fig? (AND the blackberry?!)
Just in case it is officially fig summer, and more of you out there have had a bumper crop of these sweet beauties growing in your garden or gifted to you, here is your recipe. That is, assuming they make it past the eat them right off the tree stage, that’s always the hard part.
Whenever something is effortlessly likeable and mouth-watering, I like to try to pair it with something a little crankier for balance. Dandelion greens with all of their chlorophyll and all of their liver-loving bitterness help to remind us just how sweet those bites of fig are. And the bites of dandelion greens help to cleanse the palate between bites of fig, so it’s like you’re tasting them again for the first time every time. What I’m trying to say is they help to elevate each other flavour-wise (and if you find dandelion greens too bitter, sweet figs will help).
Although the figs are the candy in this salad, they are far from candy from a nutrition perspective. They are full of soluble and insoluble fiber (keeps things moving, important for colon health), they are a prebiotic (food for the good guys in your gut), they are high in iron and contain as much calcium as cow’s milk. Their seeds contain omega 6 AND omega 3 fatty acids. Some say they are good for a dry cough, especially when you roast them, so give them a quick roast in the oven before adding them to the salad if your lungs need a hand.
There is other stuff in this salad besides the figs and dandelion greens: quinoa –protein, making this into a satisfying meal, fennel –a crunchy balance to all of the soft, also great for digestion, green onions –reminding us this is a savoury dish despite the sweet figs, also allium family cancer-crushers, avocado –because I love the taste of fat with sweet and a good, whole food fat to help balance the fig’s sweet glycemic load (which, btw, the fig does a pretty good job of on its own, with its fatty seeds and abundance of fiber, but the avocado can’t hurt), it also helps us absorb the nutrients in the salad and rounds out some of the bitterness from the greens.
Feeling placenta fig envy? I don’t blame you, but if you can’t find figs, this recipe will work just as well with any seasonal fruit: peaches, plums, blueberries and definitely blackberries, which taste best when they are free (just don’t pick them from the side of the road where they’re building the new condos that you walk past every day, no matter how plump, juicy and undiscovered they’re looking). If you’re outside of fruit season, dried figs would be good in this recipe too.
- 2 Bunches of Dandelion Greens, chopped up and washed
- 6-8 Fresh Figs, cut up into discs (or any fresh, seasonal fruit: berries, peaches, plums, apricots etc)
- 1 small (or half of a large) Fennel Bulb, sliced up
- 1 Avocado, sliced/diced
- 4 Green Onions, green parts sliced thinly (white parts reserved for the dressing)
- ½ c Quinoa, soaked for 8-12 hours, drained, rinsed well and cooked
- 2 Fresh Figs (or ¼ c of the other fresh/seasonal fruit you're using)
- 4 Green Onions, white part only, roughly chopped (green parts reserved for the salad)
- ½ tsp Mustard
- 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 2Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Arrange salad ingredients on a plate or platter.
- Drizzle with salad dressing and serve.
- (or just toss everything together in a bowl!)