Roasted Fig and Grape Salad with Arugula and Silver Chèvre (aka The Gina Salad)

Sautéed Figs and Grapes with Carmelized Onions
Silver Chèvre & Marcona Almonds over Arugula

The salad can be served family style on a platter as it was a cooking class
 or individually plated as above

Cut Grapes in Half
Photography Amy Albertson

Figs can either be cut in half or quartered
Photography Amy Albertson

My favorite Goat Cheese!
Photography Amy Albertson

Sautéing the grapes and figs!
Photography Amy Albertson

There is something rare and precious about this salad.  It is rare because it can only be made during the short time when fresh figs are in season.  I tried making it once with dried figs and it wasn't even close to the taste of warm fresh figs.  

I originally made this salad 7 years ago for Gina and Lee's wedding. (The story of how it was created and why I've called it The Gina Salad is in the link here.) Originally I didn't add any additional salad dressing because the balsamic carmelized onions and warm fruit create their own dressing. (The same way the warm sweet onions make the dressing in my Orzo Arugula Salad.)

You can individually plate this salad or you can serve it on a giant platter. The key is to add the warm ingredients at the very last minute. You can sauté the grapes and figs slightly in advance and have them waiting in a warm pan. The caramelized onions can be made up to three days in advance and rewarmed just before service.

The amounts for the main ingredients will vary depending on how many people you are serving. Accordingly, I have only listed the ingredients and not the amounts.

(aka The Gina Salad)

For the Caramelized Onions:
2 Yellow Onions
1/4 cup Olive Oil, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, reduced (optional)

Baby Arugula
Goat Cheese (I use the Silver Chèvre pictured above)
Fresh Figs
Red Grapes
Marcona Almonds
2 tablespoons Olive Oil for sautéing 
1 Tablespoon of Sugar 
Pinch of Kosher Salt

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
3/4 cup Olive Oil 

Make the caramelized onions:
The key to caramelized onions is having enough olive oil in the pan, letting them sit, and then occasionally stirring. Put a generous amount of olive oil in and sprinkle the onions with kosher salt.  Add more oil half-way through the cooking process. Cook the onions until they are golden brown and sweet. Sometimes I add reduced Balsamic vinegar at the end of the caramelization process. Be sure the onions are fully caramelized before you add the vinegar since the acid will stop the caramelization process.  

The onions can be made three days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette:
The most important part of making any salad dressing is adding the olive oil in SLOWLY. Always start by combining all of your other ingredients and then slowly adding the olive oil in a stream while you whisk away. Stop pouring to emulsify. Generally, the rule of proportions is 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 olive oil.  (That will give you a cup of dressing.) Add the salt and pepper to taste. (Some people like a pinch of sugar as well.)  I've also made this recipe without any vinaigrette at all because the balsamic onions make their own dressing. Thus, the dressing is optional!

Sauté the fruit:
Cut the grapes in half. Cut the figs in halves or quarters. Heat the largest sauté pan (frying pan, skillet) to medium high heat. If you have a small pan, sauté the fruit separately. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the fruit and sprinkle with sugar and a pinch of salt. Keep warm in the pan until you are ready to serve.

Reheat the caramelized onions if you have made these in advance.

Assemble the Arugula on a big platter or on individual plates. Break the goat cheese up into small chunks and evenly distribute over the salad. Place the warm caramelized onions around the salad.  Pour the warm fruit over the salad. Sprinkle the Marcona Almonds evenly on the salad. Drizzle with the Balsamic Vinaigrette. Serve immediately.



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