This fig salad with prosciutto and arugula is super easy, but delicious, and of course, always impressive.
What are figs?
They are small, pear-shaped pods, which when opened, have a very sweet, grainy textured flesh. Figs are the fruit of the ficus tree, which is native to the Middle East and Western Asia. Ficus trees have been cultivated since ancient times and they grow best in dry, sunny places. Mission figs, which grow in California, are the most widely available variety in North America.
How Do Figs Grow?
Figs are actually an inverted flower and not a fruit. The flowers grow inside the pod, maturing into the fruit. Those flowers are pollinated by tiny wasps, called fig wasps, who enter the male fig and lay their eggs. The wasp dies inside the male fig, and when the eggs hatch, the baby wasps leave, carrying pollen.
Does this sound gross? Yes, it does, but keep in mind that we don’t eat the male figs, only the female ones. And as I mentioned earlier, most of the figs that we eat grow in California, and the trees are self-pollinating.
With this in mind, we must ask the next question:
Are Figs Vegan?
Whether or not vegans should eat figs is a personal choice and individual decision. Although the self-pollinating varieties of figs will not have dead wasps in them, there is no guarantee that you will not ingest one while eating figs.
Chances are if you are vegan, you aren’t reading this recipe, but if you are, and would like more info about those little wasps, here it is: Figs: Are They Vegan?
Are Figs Good For You?
Figs are low in calories, high in fiber, and nutrient-dense in both their raw and their dried forms. Both raw and dried figs are excellent sources of Vitamin K, B Vitamins, manganese, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc.
The health benefits of figs increase significantly for dried figs. For example: potassium goes from 7% DV (raw) to 19% DV, calcium from 4% DV (raw) to 16% DV (dried), and iron from 2% DV (raw) to 11% DV (dried).
Raw vs Dried Figs
Aside from the nutritional differences that I noted above, both raw figs and dried figs are delicious, nutritious treats. If you can find fresh figs, by all means, they are worth it. However, dried figs are readily available at all times of the year in most locations, so they are an excellent option. You can use dried and fresh figs interchangeably in recipes.
About This Fig Salad
Figs are delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, and their sweetness pairs beautifully with strong & salty aged cheeses, like the Parmesan that I used in this salad. Cured meats, in particular, prosciutto, are another great match. This salad covers all the flavour notes with a base of peppery arugula, some aromatic basil, and a tangy-sweet dressing of balsamic and honey.
Ready For More Hearty Salads? You Might Also Like These:
How to Make Fig Salad with Prosciutto & Arugula
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- 3 cups arugula
- 1 cup basil leaves torn
- 3 oz prosciutto cut into ribbons
- 1 cup dried figs halved
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese shaved into ribbons (use a vegetable peeler)
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
On a platter, arrange arugula and basil
scatter prosciutto and figs over the greens
top with Parmesan
Shake vingar, honey, and oil in a jar with a lid, or whisk together in a small bowl.
Drizzle viniagrette over the salad and serve immediately
Fresh figs are delicious in this recipe, or you can rehydrate dried figs in water before using if you prefer that texture.
Blue cheese or gorgonzola can be used in place of the Parmesan for a stronger cheese presence.