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Fig wild rice salad is a light addition to your holiday entertaining table. This is a paid post on behalf of Calfornia Figs.
Are you ready for the holidays? Even though Thanksgiving is later this year, I am not quite sure that I’m prepared. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the turkey talk that is flying around!
Fortunately we like to keep it simple when it comes to Thanksgiving, with a small gathering of just our family and maybe a few friends. While we like to have a few of the classic dishes like mashed potatoes and pecan pie, every year I like to have something somewhat different (and perhaps a bit healthy).
This year I’m using dried figs and wild rice to make a wonderfully sweet and nutty side dish salad.
dried golden figs
While you’ll often see dried Mission figs in stores, my favorite are actually the dried golden figs, which can be any of the “white” varieties of fig such as Kadota or Sierra.
Golden figs are more nutty and buttery, which makes them the ideal pairing for aromatics as well as roasted meats — like turkey!
When choosing dried figs, they should be soft but not wet. Dried figs can be stored for 6-8 months in an airtight container. If you’ve opened a package of figs, be sure to put them in a resealable container!
using dried figs
I love to add dried figs to savory recipes, and salads are a great way to do so. Dried figs are usually a bit large, which means slicing them for your recipe.
In my roasted sweet potatoes with dried figs recipe, I halved them. With baked goods like fig breakfast cookies, they need to be fully chopped for incorporating into the batter. For salads, I like to cut dried figs into thirds, which gives you a large piece for each forkful to provide plenty of sweet flavor.
When cutting figs, be sure to use a very sharp knife. Depending on how fresh your dried figs are, they can be very sticky! Be patient and clean your knife with a damp cloth as needed to remove excess juices.
In this fig wild rice salad, there are multiple contrasts of flavor and texture. Crunchy almonds, chewy sweet figs, peppery arugula, nutty wild rice, and tangy goat cheese — it’s just so good!
I was inspired to create recipe thanks to the California Figs cookbook, a wonderful collection of fig recipes (that one of my friends happened to shoot photos for!). You can find the cookbook as well as a wealth of fig recipes at CaliforniaFigs.com.
cooking wild rice
I’ve been cooking wild rice for a while now, and I’ve noticed that depending on the kind I buy, the method for cooking is different.
Sometimes the method calls to simmer for 45 minutes, while other times it has you simmer for a shorter period of time and then sit covered with the burner off.
The age of the rice and how it has been dried are factors in the amount of cooking time, as is whether the rice is actually wild or cultivated. The rice you buy will have instructions to match, but also use your instincts and cook to your tastes.
You can make this fig wild rice salad ahead of time, keeping the goat cheese and vinaigrette off until just before serving. You’ll be surprised how many guests are grateful for a green option on the table this holiday season!
Fig Wild Rice Salad
- 1/2 dry wild rice
- 5 ounces baby arugula
- 1 1/2 cup sliced dried golden figs
- 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
For the vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook wild rice according to package directions. Drain any excess water and let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine wild rice and arugula. The arugula will wilt slightly from the rice. Add dried figs, goat cheese, and slivered almonds and toss to combine.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together orange juice, balsamic, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. (You can also combine in a mason jar, cap it, and shake to combine.)
- Pour dressing over salad just before serving, keeping extra dressing on the side.