Fig and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
October 31, 2010

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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?

xo

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Categories: Dressings

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    60 Comments
  1. i love every single recipe i’ve tried on your site!!! thank you.
    if you ever write a cook book i would buy it in a heart beat 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this recipe! I didn’t have figs but I did have dates, so I did it with those. It is yummy. What a creative and delicious dressing!

  3. I am running to the kitchen right now to soak my dried figs so I can have this on my salad for supper! We don’t get fresh figs in these parts but I do dearly love dried ones and just happen to have the remainders of a bag waiting to be used. Yum!

  4. I remember you mentioning you don’t like garlic, did you actually put some in your dressing? Is it optional? I don’t really like garlic either.

  5. Another great piece. I like how you seem to “dance” with food Gena. No complicated recipes – just a knack of knowing how to put together what you’ve got on hand to make a great meal. Love it.

  6. I’m with you hate fresh figs LOVE dried figs. Fig balsamic vinegar is my favorite, but I save money by infusing my own vinegar, but making a dressing by blending them is even faster 🙂

  7. Now that you’ve taken the lead, I can admit that I’m not fussy on fresh figs, either. Ah, but dried. . . lay them on me! 😉

    The dressing looks fabulous. I’m already addicted to your zucchini concoction, so why not add another to my Gena-inspired list? 🙂

  8. i like em both but apricots for instance i prefer dried rather than fresh they are soooo sweet like candy yum! i love fresh apples though, can’t take the dried ones.

  9. I love figs, both fresh and dried. I grew up eating fig newtons, but that was it for figs. Then when I got married and starting food shopping, I tried dried Turkish figs and fell in love. When we moved to our property here, I planted all kinds of fruit trees and bushes. And 3 were fig trees. This past summer they out did themselves. I am supposing from the hot dry summer here in New Jersey. Anyhow, I ate tons fresh, froze some and dried some. But mine are all dark figs, so my dressing won’t be as pretty. But now I have something to use dried figs in. Thanks.

  10. i love fresh figs (thank goodness, since my body does not like dried fruit…). and coincidentally bought a fig balsamic at the farmers market yesterday! the woman sold me when she drizzled it on my fresh strawberries… so so yummy. now im very inspired to try your version!

  11. This salad dressing literally just made my life about 100 times better. I’m seriously going to whip a batch of this up right now and pour it all over everything I eat! Thank you for the recipe, Gena!

  12. I’m confused about the colour…I wouldn’t expect that, but a tan or brownish colour. This dressing pictured looks like a roasted red pepper viniagrette. Or a French or some kind of tomato dressing.

    Wassup with that?

  13. Swear I tried to check the archives, but I didn’t catch anything, so here goes: I understand everyone may not find it thrilling, but I’d like to see a post on salad spinners. Or just a tack-on to a post. I remember reading that you’ve had your share(+), and if you care to rec one or two, I’d like to see it.

    This sounds so stupid. Nevertheless, I mean it.

  14. Is there a replacement for figs? I don’t eat them only because of the fig wasps.

    “When a female wasp dies inside an edible fig, an enzyme in the fig
    called ficin breaks down her carcass into protein. The fig basically digests the dead insect, making it a part of the resulting ripened fruit. The crunchy bits in figs are seeds, not anatomical parts of a wasp.”

    Thanks,
    Nae

  15. I can honestly say I have never tried a fresh fig, they just didn’t pop up at the farmer’s market this year and I was never curious before! That dressing looks beautiful though!

    Another, I love love love almonds, but am not much a fan of almond butter! Weird! But I eat it anyways ^_^

  16. I don’t think there is a fruit I dislike, fresh or dried. My weekend was great, somehow we are having a 3 day long celebration for my brothers 21st b-day which means three raw pies in a row 🙂

  17. Agreed – fresh figs, nast; dried figs, divine. I always have a little container of them in my fridge, which is handy when I have the munchies and need a bite to tide me over while I make dinner. I tend to prefer my veggies cooked, especially with the weather growing colder, but an exciting dressing would indeed make salad way more fun! I also love the trick I read in ED&BV: wash out an empty (glass) almond butter jar (or similar), dump in the dressing ingredients and use an immersion blender to blend smooth. Then you can just screw on the cap and be done! Ok, not appropriate for a dressing that involves whole foods like this one, but it’s handy for skipping a step when making a more simple vinaigrette. 🙂

  18. Weird…. I’m the exact opposite. I love every fresh fruit I have ever tasted but hate most dried fruits. For example, I LOVE cherries, strawberries, plums, cranberries, and apricots in their fresh form, but I detest them when dried. In fact figs and raisins are probably the only dried fruits I enjoy. Which brings me to this fantastic-looking dressing… I can’t wait to try it!

  19. If I slather celery in something (tomato paste, hummus, etc.) I don’t mind eating it, but generally it has to be cut up into small pieces for me to enjoy it, otherwise it’s too stringy and is a food turn off.

    Also, it’s not that I don’t like plain fruit, I do, but I prefer almost all of my fruits frozen. I like the texture and taste when paired with yogurt and nuts, it’s fantastic.

  20. That sounds so fantastic! The name of it alone is making me drool.

    I’m the same way with fresh figs, ew! Gime me dried anyday though and they’ll be gone in a couple hours.

  21. The dressing is beautiful! Love how it hugs the salad leaves! I made a chestnut & sweet potato bisque last night. After boiling and peeling the chestnuts I nibbled on one and didn’t care for the tasted. In the soup? Perfection!

  22. I haven’t even tried a fresh fig. I am scared a little of the texture. And scared if I like them, that I will have yet another expensive fruit habit to fulfill. I do love dried figs, and balsamic. I need to give this a try because my salad dressing repertoire needs help.

  23. Hey Gena,
    I think the edits you made didn’t take. The recipe is still reading like this:

    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 beets for about ten minutes: that should get them soft enough to blend in a conventional blender.

    I put arrows (>>>) so you can see where the errors are. The first two are missing the “cup” measurement, and the third is where it says to “boil the beets,” and I think you meant “boil the figs.”

  24. that dressing sounds great and LOOKS beautiful too! I love the jar photos.

    I am not a BIG fan of strawberries, but I really like them dried.

  25. Hi there — this looks wonderful, I love figs dried or fresh, and I love your quesadilla! Just wanted to check, in the ingredients, when you say “1/3 white balsamic vinaigrette” did you mean 1/3 *cup* white balsamic *vinegar*? Thanks!

  26. Great post, Gena! I, too, am not crazy about figs- it could be something about the texture or taste. Still not totally sure 🙂 I’ll definitely have to give this one a shot, maybe I’ll like figs in some form!

    For some odd reason, being the crazy- veggie lover that I am (raw or not raw), I don’t like raw zucchini and mushrooms. However, I love them cooked or blended (hummus, raw soup…). I’ve noticed there’s veggies I like more raw and a few I prefer cooked.

  27. Sounds delicious! I don’t care for raw tomatoes nearly as much as I like them cooked. I agree with you on the fresh figs as well, sometimes I like them and other times I really don’t.

  28. I posted earlier in the week about bananas. That I don’t like them raw/whole/plain very much, if at all. As a kid they were…meh, and as an adult, I just find them…really not my thing. BUT…IN recipes, especially in vegan and GF baking/cooking, they make a great addition, i.e. in my muffins, waffles, in cookies, etc. And of course, in your banana softserve 🙂

    That’s my food that one way is meh but another way is great.

    Figs…I don’t eat fresh figs except maybe once a year b/c they are expensive to find fresh! and hard to source, at least for me, b/c I refuse to pay WF’s prices!

    Love the looks of the salad dressing! And the bean dip you threw together on the fly..yum!

    I see garlic in your salad dressing recipe, you’re getting brave 🙂 (and/or you just wrote that for readers and in actuality you steered clear…which i do that with garlic/onions b/c most people like them but I don’t!)

    Happy Hween!!!!

    🙂

  29. wait, are there beets in the dressing? you talk about blending them but they aren’t in the ingredient list?

  30. I don’t like plain raw tomatoes, but I will devour them after roasting, or when used to make sauce. I had fresh figs for the first time last month and I loved them! I actually don’t care for the dried ones too much, unless they’re in a Fig Newton. I had a wonderful weekend, as I hope you did as well!