Nothing quite beats drizzling honey over freshly sliced figs except the accompaniment of mangos and toasted pine nuts. This fig salad epitomises the summer months and perfect for those long lunches under the warm sun.
Why I Love Honeyed Fig Salad in Mango Puree
Figs have a short season, and when you see the perfect figs with its smooth skin and gorgeous green and purple hues, they are pretty hard to be ignored.
Even more satisfying is when you bite into them or cut them in half, and they are so completely fresh and pink on the inside.
Inevitably fig season also means mangos are in abundance. I wanted to incorporate the 2 fruits together but not serve up mangos in the usual manner. Pureeing the mango gave the salad a creamy finish without it being overly thick or on the other end of the spectrum, soggy.
This fig salad can be whipped up really quickly and doesn’t require a lot of mucking around. The colours are also striking, making it yet another dinner centrepiece.
Why Are Figs Not Vegan?
Have you ever heard of the term “mutualism” in biological terms?
Mutualism, in a nutshell, is the natural and biological reliance of 2 different species on each other in order for it to flourish. One cannot do without the other, and they both benefit from this alliance.
Mutualism occurs between figs and wasps. Unlike most flowering plants that rely on bees for pollinated, figs rely on wasps.
They need them to make their seeds and distribute their pollen. In turn, the wasps rely on the figs to act as a womb where reproduction can take place.
The female fig flowers exude a scent which attracts pregnant female wasps. The wasp enters through a tiny opening in the centre. Sometimes so small that the wings are ripped off.
The wasp will be carrying pollen which then pollinates the fig. In turn, she will lay her eggs inside the flower.
In the mother’s short life span of 24 hours, she ensures her young will survive by injecting chemicals into the flowers so that when the eggs hatch, food is available.
The baby wasps stay inside the flower of the fig until adulthood. At this juncture, they also mate with one another. The blind and wingless males will bite through the flower, creating an opening for the female wasps to fly out.
At this point, the circle of life for the wasps and figs start again.
The female wasps die after reproduction, and they do so inside the fig. This would mean that you’re essentially eating dead insects and hence, not very vegan friendly.
But before you downright gross out and have a fear every time you bite into a fig; the wasps are digested by an enzyme called ficin. This enzyme breaks down the insect, and you’ll find no remains.
Therefore, the crunchy bits you’re eating are seeds, not dead wasps.
While many will say that this is an entirely natural process rather than an exploitation process, figs are vegan.
However, the staunch believers claim that while sometimes insects are eaten occasionally through fruit and vegetables, it is almost guaranteed that this will happen with figs and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
What do you think? Are figs vegan or not?
Why Are Figs So Expensive?
Whenever I hear someone got a fresh batch of figs from their tree, I am instantly envious.
Whenever I look at the price of figs, I always balk at how much it costs. Still, I’m unable to resist, so I bite the bullet and consider them a luxury item.
Occasionally at the height of fig season, they are cheap but never last very long at that price point. Whenever we see cheap figs, my girlfriends and I message each other to go and get some.
Figs are expensive because of their temperamental growing conditions. It has to be of the right temperature, which inevitably dictates where it can be grown. Logistics, therefore, adds to the costs.
They are also a very fragile fruit that wrinkles and bruises easily. It has a short shelf life. There are only a few days from tree to market, so the elusive hunt for the perfect fig comes at a price.
In saying that, however, they truly are worth every penny.
When Are Figs in Season?
Figs usually see 2 seasons—a short spurt at the start of summer followed by a longer season at the end of summer.
Best Way to Store Figs
Figs are best eaten when they are purchased. They may only last a day or two.
Best to store them at room temperature in an open space rather than being confined cramped space.
Best Mains for This Salad
Figs and mangos are summer fruits—both sweet and succulent. Drizzled with honey, this is the ultimate representation of summer feasting.
As with all warm weather dining, eating outside with a BBQ or smoker going is quite the norm. Be it a marbled wagyu, smoked brisket or just some plain ‘ol snags (Aussie slang for sausages!). This fig salad is a great accompaniment.
The freshness will cut through the meat and give you a palate relief as you get ready to get into the main fare again.
How to Make Honeyed Fig Salad in Mango Puree
How to Make Salad
This is so easy you’d be surprised!
Cut the ends off the figs and slice. Each fig should yield about 4-5 slices.
In a small mixing bowl, add the mixed leaves, 1 tsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss until well combined.
In a small fry pan, dry toast pine nuts for about 1 minute or until golden brown.
Chop chervil leaves to yield 1 tbsp.
How to Make the Mango Puree
Extract all the flesh from the mangos.
Add mango and 1 tbsp of olive oil into a food processor and puree.
How To Assemble The Salad
If possible, serve on a plate or platter with a bit of a lip, so the puree doesn’t run.
Put the puree on the plate. Pick up the plate and swirl it so that it distributes evenly.
Add the mixed leaves on top.
Then add the pine nuts.
Place the sliced figs on top in the middle. Don’t place all over the plate as you want to allow the mango’s bright colours to be seen.
Sprinkle with chervil.
Drizzle honey all over the figs.
Season with cracked pepper.
Told you it was easy and seriously, how pretty are the colours! A wonderfully simple salad to complement any summer fare!
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Honeyed Fig Salad in Mango Puree
- 2 ` mango
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Cut the ends off the figs and slice. Each fig should yield about 4-5 slices.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the mixed leaves, 1 tsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss until well combined.
- In a small fry pan, dry toast pine nuts for about 1 minute or until golden brown.
- Chop chervil leaves to yield 1 tbsp.
- Extract all the flesh from the mangos.
- Add mango and 1 tbsp of olive oil into a food processor and puree.
- If possible, serve on a plate or platter with a bit of a lip, so the puree doesn’t run.
- Put the puree on the plate. Pick up the plate and swirl it so that it is evenly distributed.
- Add the mixed leaves on top.
- Then add the pine nuts.
- Place the sliced figs on top in the middle. Don’t place all over the plate as you want to allow the mango's bright colours to be seen.
- Sprinkle with chervil.
- Drizzle honey all over the figs.
- Season with cracked pepper.
- If you’re able to, purchase the figs the day you’re making the salad. Or at least the day before. You want them to be as fresh as possible as they are the showcase for this side dish.
- Any mixed leaves will do. Just make sure they are soft and delicate rather than crunchy. Arugula would work nicely with this salad if you want to offset the sweetness and provide some peppery notes.
- Pine nuts can be replaced with any nut such as shaved almonds or crushed pistachios.
- For additional crunch factor, add some sunflower seeds or pepitas.
- The choice of mango is entirely up to you. I chose the less sweet variety for this recipe as the figs and honey were already on the sweet side. I selected mildly tart mangoes.
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