Mmmm… fresh figs! Late summer and early fall is the height of fig season. Right now in Austin, the grocery stores have been fully stocked with varieties of figs from California that range in color from dark purple to bright green on the outside, to various shades of pink on the inside. They are best when heavy, plump, unblemished, and slightly soft on the outside. Figs that are squishy are probably overripe. Check out this article to learn more about how to choose figs.
In this recipe, I have chosen to marinate the fennel in citrus, olive oil, and salt before adding it to the salad. This slightly softens the fennel and makes it more flavorful. Fennel bulbs are easy to slice if you first trim the stems and fronds from the bulb, cut into quarters, and then thinly slice each quarter. If the stems are juicy and flavorful, they can also be thinly sliced and added to the marinade.Trim fennel root and stems. Cut in half. Cut each half in half. Slice off the hard core from each fennel quarter. Slice thinly.
I recommend using a good quality, aged balsamic vinegar that is less acidic and slightly sweet. I used the Central Market brand Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Italy for this recipe. It costs about $16 and can be bought online or in the Austin Central Market stores.
I used a tangerine-infused olive oil from Vom Faas specialty store. You can sub a good quality extra virgin olive oil if you can’t find this ingredient.
Be creative and try substituting ingredients that are seasonal in your area. For example, as winter approaches, pomegranates will be in season and can be used instead of figs. Mango can be used in place of oranges, celery for fennel, and toasted pecans for almonds.
- 1 small or ½ large fresh fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons orange juice (fresh squeezed)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 cups mixed field greens with baby arugula
- up to 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- up to 2 tablespoons citrus-infused olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 fresh figs, sliced in quarters
- 1 small avocado, cut into chunks
- slices of 1 orange or 2 clementines
- ¼ cup Marcona almonds (toasted and salted)
- black pepper, freshly ground (optional)
- In a small bowl, mix together fennel, orange juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Allow fennel to marinate for at least 20 minutes. This step can also be done up to one day ahead, storing the fennel mixture covered in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the salad.
- Rinse and spin dry mixed greens. Spread evenly onto large platter or into large salad bowl.
- Drizzle greens with balsamic vinegar and citrus-infused olive oil. Top greens with marinated fennel, figs, avocado, orange or clementine slices, and Marcona almonds.
- Top with a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
- Use mango chunks in place of orange slices.