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!
Kale Salad With Grilled Eggplant, White Beans and Fresh Figs [Vegan]
- 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.
- 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.
If the onion doesn't want to flip, just kind of "stir fry" it on one side of the grill pan. This salad will actually "hold" for a little while, covered, in the refrigerator.