Yield: 4 servings
I always love to see our beloved and talented contractor, Ted Zappia, show up…perhaps most especially when he arrives with his tools AND a bucket of plump figs fresh from his family tree.
I am passionate about figs, fresh or dried, but right now the local fig trees are bursting with fruit, so I am all about fresh. Ted’s gift has, so far, inspired two stunning main-dish salads; they look like a garden on a plate! And they are perfect one-dish summer suppers even though the August heat has eased up a bit lately.
In this one, raw kale, grilled veggies, white beans and figs are lightly coated in a hummus-based dressing inspired by a non-traditional pizza topping I recently saw in a culinary magazine. But I infuse mine with fragrant home-grown basil and sage. For crunch and that special little crowning touch, I garnish the salad with toasted sunflower seeds.
Though, this spectacular salad serves 4, don’t be surprised if you want half of it for yourself!
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 medium-large cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 Japanese eggplant, about 10 inches long, ends removed, and cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 of a large orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch or slightly wider pieces
- Approximately 1/4 cup red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1-15 ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 generous cups lightly packed fresh kale, stems removed, and torn into bite size pieces (if the farmer’s market doesn’t have any, I purchase the pre-washed, pre-torn kale in a bag and remove any remaining thick stems)
- 5 ounces plain or garlic-flavored hummus (half of a typical carton–I use Sabra brand Roasted Garlic)
- Approximately 1/3 cup olive oil
- 8 small-medium leaves fresh basil chiffonade (stacked, tightly rolled, and sliced into very narrow slivers), or finely chopped
- 8 small-medium leaves fresh sage chiffonade (stacked, tightly rolled, and sliced into very narrow slivers), or finely chopped
- Pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- 8 fresh figs, stemmed, and sliced in half vertically
- 1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted sunflower seeds
- Optional garnish: sprigs of fresh basil
- In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, turmeric, and pinch of sea salt. Add the eggplant, bell pepper, and red onion and toss to coat. Let marinate for a few minutes. Then, heat a seasoned grill pan over medium high and grill the veggies in batches for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until nice grill marks develop. Return them to the bowl they were marinating in. Note: if the onion doesn’t want to flip, just kind of “stir fry” it on one side of the grill pan..
- While the veggies grill, whisk together the hummus, 1/3 cup olive oil, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the white beans and kale to the veggies, pour the dressing over and toss to coat.
- Arrange the salad on a serving platter or individual plates, nestle the fig halves, flesh side up, over the top, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and garnish, if desired, with fresh basil springs. Serve immediately. Note: this salad will actually “hold” for a little while, covered, in the refrigerator.