Hands on: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, including cooling time for pecans Serves: 6
This nutty, sweet and spicy salad features local arugula, figs, honey and goat cheese. Look for dark green arugula for the most robust, peppery flavor. A forkful should include all the components.
For the dressing:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon French Dijon mustard
11/2 tablespoons local honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
For the pecans:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup Georgia pecans
For the salad:
8 ounces Cole’s Lake Dairy French chèvre or other Georgia fresh goat cheese at room temperature
3 bunches local arugula, stems removed, washed and dried
12 Georgia figs, washed and dried
To prepare the dressing: Place olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, lemon juice, paprika, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well blended. Save in a container at room temperature. Shake well or whisk again before dressing arugula. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
To prepare the spiced pecans: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Mix cardamom, salt, chili powder, celery seed, cinnamon and cayenne together in a bowl and add to oil. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes to mellow flavor. Place pecans in mixing bowl, add spice mixture and toss well. Spread pecans in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, shaking and turning the baking sheet once or twice. Remove baking sheet from oven and, using a spatula, toss the pecans with any spices and oil that have accumulated. Let rest for 2 hours in a cool place to concentrate spice flavors.
To assemble the salad: Whip chèvre with a hand mixer or strong steel whisk. Line up the arugula leaves and chop into 1-inch pieces. Toss with dressing to taste and divide on 6 salad plates. Slice each fig in half and divide evenly among plates. Spoon 3/4 teaspoon chèvre onto fig halves. Garnish with pecans and serve. Leftover pecans can be stored in an airtight container.
Per serving: 548 calories (percent of calories from fat, 73), 14 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 46 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 40 milligrams cholesterol, 307 milligrams sodium.
Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC