Fig Salad with Walnuts and Mint

by Lynne on July 12, 2010

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Fig Salad with Walnuts and Mint

Last Saturday I was invited by Pam, of My Man’s Belly, to go with her to the Torrance Farmers Market to do an Ingredient Challenge. Each person buys an item they find at the farmers market for the other person to use in a recipe they create. Pam had done this previously with Greg, of SippitySup. He bought her sour plums and she bought him lavender, from which they created wonderful dishes. I was really looking forward to this adventure, wondering what Pam would pick for me, because her blog is very creative, with great recipes, beautiful photos and interesting relationship advice. I was imagining having to deal with some esoteric item totally unfamiliar to me.

The Torrance Farmers Market is held at Wilson Park and is about three times as big as my neighboring one in Manhattan Beach. It has all of the same seasonal produce, plus unusual vegetables like pebbly cucumbers, kohlrabi, daicon radishes and a lot of Japanese greens of different kinds. It also has more food vendors, including Bigmista’s Barbecue, which had a big write-up in the Los Angeles Times the previous Thursday.

After making a complete tour of the market, we hit the food stalls. Pam indulged in some French crepes with Grand Marnier sauce and I hit the Bigmista BBQ. This farmers market has a clutch of communal tables and chairs under a tent covering, so we sat there to eat. It was so nice to talk with another foodie, without having their eyes roll up in their head from boredom. Thank you Pam! And my Pulled Pork Sandwich was pretty good, too.

Next we were off to find our Challenge Ingredients. Earlier we had walked by a fresh mushroom vendor, so we segued over there. I bought Pam three huge Portobello mushrooms, which I would not have known what to do with, but her eyes lit up. She said she might make Portobello Mushroom Burgers. Oh, that sounded really good. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she ultimately creates.

Black Mission Figs

We walked by a stall that had these beautiful Black Mission Figs, so I picked up a container and was admiring them. I must have been drooling, because Pam asked, amusedly, “Do you want to have figs as your ingredient?” Yes! I was so happy. I could hardly wait to get home and make something with them.

Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig fruit is actually the flower of the tree, known as inflorescence, in which the flowers and seeds grow together to form a single mass. The flower is not visible, as it blooms inside the fruit. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the end of the  fruit is a narrow passage,  which allows a specialized wasp, the fig wasp, to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, after which the fruit grows seeds inside.

The common fig probably originated in southern Arabia. Ancient records show the Sumerians (2900 B.C.) and Assyrians (2000 B.C.) were familiar with it. It slowly spread from there to Syria and the Mediterranean coast by seafaring Phoenicians and Greeks. Figs supposedly reached China in 127 A.D. and Cuba in 1526. Figs first entered the U.S. at Parris Island, South Carolina in 1575 and quickly spread throughout the area. Thomas Jefferson imported fig trees from France.

Figs came to California via Spanish missions in Mexico, and were spread by the Franciscan Missionaries. The first California figs were planted in 1769 in the gardens of the Mission at San Diego. California ranks third in world fig production after Turkey and Greece, and ahead of Spain and Portugal. California produces 100% of domestic fig production and 65% of the figs consumed in the country.

And I LOVE figs!

Fig Salad with Walnuts and Mint 2

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Fig Salad with Walnuts and Mint

Makes 4 servings

12 ripe figs

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

1/3 cup raw walnut halves, very coarsely broken up, or more to taste
1/3 cup mint leaves, sliced very thinly length-wise
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Cut figs into quarters and place on serving plates.

2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice and honey in a small bowl. Beat with a spoon.

3. Sprinkle walnuts over fig quarters. Drizzle dressing over each fig quarter.

4. Add a light sprinkle of salt and black pepper over top.

5. Sprinkle mint over figs. Serve.

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Daily Ingredient: Figs | juicygreenaura
September 20, 2012 at 9:04 pm

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

My Man's Belly July 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

This salad looks as delicious as it sounded when you told me about it. Since I just picked up more figs over the weekend, I think this is going to be on the menu tonight!

Michael / South Bay Foodies July 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

This recipe must be market driven! I just picked up some figs from the HM Farmer’s Markey on Friday. They’re going into preserves but if I have some left over, they might make it into this salad! 😀

Polwig July 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm

This looks wonderful. I don’t think personally I ever made anything with figs other then eating them straight. Lavender on the other hand is my favorite and went through a huge phase of cooking with it 😉

Monet July 12, 2010 at 8:18 pm

What a fun thing to do…I also adore figs (hello, larabars!) but this simple salad blows those packaged bars out of the water. What a stunning arrangement, which I’m sure is matched by the amazing flavor. Thank you for sharing, love!

Adair @ Lentil Breakdown July 12, 2010 at 8:54 pm

I LOVE figs!! They could never make it past my mouth into a salad though. This looks so pretty, and your fig history is really interesting. Here’s an ode to a fig leaf in honor of your salad:

Joanne July 13, 2010 at 5:32 am

Two things I love. Food challenges. And figs. My dad has a fig tree in our backyard so much of my childhood summers were spent waiting for them to ripen so that I could inhale them. This salad looks fantastic!

Kim at Rustic Garden Bistro July 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Hey Lynne! What a great post, and a fun adventure. Those figs look beautiful. We have a tree growing on our driveway, but no “flowers” yet. 😉

Happy week,


Suz July 14, 2010 at 10:40 am

What a stunning salad! I wouldn’t want to eat it because it’s too beautiful just sitting there 🙂 I must try that market sometime…

sippitysup July 14, 2010 at 11:38 am

Ahh figs! Simple and soo summer. I look forward to them every year. I love the way they marry both sweet and savory flavors… and don’t get me started on their texture. GREG

redmenace July 14, 2010 at 11:47 am

Obviously, you were up to the challenge because you’ve created an amazing dish. Looks fantastic. I just bought figs yesterday. Will have to try out this great flavor combo!

Magic of Spice July 14, 2010 at 3:32 pm

This is simply gorgeous! A perfect and wonderful blend of flavors:)

roz July 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm

just found your lovely blog….this fig dish sounds wonderful… glad to have found you to follow along. Roz @ La Bella Vita!

Cristina - TeenieCakes July 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

Lynne – what a fun thing to do, this Ingredient Challenge! I was marveling at a package of figs yesterday at Costco, and just didn’t know what I’d do with them, as I’ve never used them before. You’ve inspired me and I’ll start off with this lovely fig salad.

K Schaffer July 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I didn’t know how to use figs except to eat them just as they grow. Your photo of the fig salad is beautiful. I can’t wait to get some figs from my neighbor’s tree and try it.
ms scha4

Patti at Worth The Whisk July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I never ate figs growing up, but your beautiful photo and delicious recipe have convinced me there is something out there that I’ve really missed! Time to enjoy figs.

Framed July 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

I just love this recipe — thanks so much for posting — and have to say, your photos (this and all your other posts) are just stunning. So fresh and beautiful and mouthwatering. 🙂

lisa July 23, 2010 at 5:42 pm

This looks fantastico, Lynne! I love figs and this recipe sounds perfect — simple and fresh. Hope you are well — your blog and photos are looking great.

Cucee Sprouts August 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

We have walnut allergies in a family, so I use a similar recipe but without walnuts. Here is the recipe that I use

Klaas June 17, 2013 at 11:09 am

Just made this salad and it sure was deliscious! I overdid the lemon juice which covered the sweetness of the figs a bit too much. So I’d taste a fig and adjust the amount of lemon juice.

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