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I spend so much time writing about salads that sometimes I forget to write about salads. By this I mean that there’s nary a post that goes by when you don’t see salad of some sort, either as a side dish or as the main event. And I mention frequently that most of the dinners you don’t see on my blog, either because I ate on a night when I couldn’t snap photos, or because my meal was too dull to blog about—are nutrient dense salads (NDS’s). But in all of that writing about salad, I seldom write about them exclusively; they’re so much a part of my diet and lifestyle at this point that I tend to take them for granted.

Every now and then, though, I make a salad or a dressing that’s so tasty I can’t help but dedicate an entire blog post to it. And that’s how I feel about my fig and white balsamic vinaigrette, which I’ve already made twice and intend to add to my list of dressings I make almost weekly (the list already includes my zucchini dressing, my maple cinnamon dressing, and my spicy thai dressing.

Confession: I don’t like fresh figs. Every September, whilst every foodie I know writes sonnets to his or her favorite fig dish, I stand aside, staring at those slippery, seedy little fellows with an air of suspicion. Dried figs, though, are another story: I love them, and could eat them till doomsday. I love them in baked goods, in salads, in raw trail mixes and snack bars, and on their own. I’d never thought to put them into a salad dressing until one recent afternoon at Whole Foods, when I noted that one of their new vinaigrette flavors was a fig balsamic. Hmmm, I thought: isn’t that a pretty idea?

Pretty it was. This dressing is sweet, deep, and delicious. It’s especially good for sweeter salads – like roast beets and endive, which is the first salad concoction I served this on—but it works really nicely on bitter or spicy greens like arugula, too, because its natural sweetness cuts the bite. I imagine it would go well on massaged kale, too—in fact it’s shocking that I haven’t tried that yet! No matter how you serve it, this one’s a keeper.

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Fig and White Balsamic Vinaigrette (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

6 very large dried figs (if yours are small, add a few more), soaked for about 8 hours and drained
1/3 white balsamic vinegar (sub regular if need be)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 water
1 small clove garlic
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till totally smooth and creamy. Add more water if it’s too thick.

If you don’t have a high-speed blender, just go ahead and boil the figs for about ten minutes: that should get them soft enough to blend in a conventional blender.

Here, I served the drinkable stuff over an arugula salad. And it rocked.

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If you’re wondering what I ate it with, that happened to be pretty tasty, too! I made a quesadilla with one large Ezekiel wrap, and a filling of sliced avocado and a butternut squash and white bean dip that I threw together totally on the fly: 2 cups steamed b-nut squash, 1 can organic, BPA-free cannellini beans, 2 heaping tbsp tahini, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp curry, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and a dash of cloves. Loved this combo!

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A very satisfying Sunday brunch, if I may say.

It’s funny how ingredients we don’t usually like (figs, for me) can win our hearts over in a different form or as a part of a dressing or soup. Blending in general, I think, is a pretty good way to cozy up to foods you fear. I don’t think I’d ever have gotten over my aversion to cilantro (which is now one of my favorite flavors) if I hadn’t dumped some of it into a salad dressing lo these many years ago.

Do you have any foods you don’t like in one form, but do like in another? (I find that many fruits I don’t like fresh taste delicious dried.) And how were your weekends?


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