This Fig and Kale Salad lets you savour the last tastes and flavours of summer. Gluten free and Top 8 allergen free. Vegan substitutions available.
Salads are one of my favourite meals, when I am not ready to give up on summer this fig and kale salad is perfect for us. Like all of our recipes it is top 8 allergen free. It isn't vegan this time because of the figs and the honey in the dressing. For ideas on how to make it vegan friendly check our tips below.
This salad came about because I had a big bag of fresh figs to eat and wanted to savour their raw taste. I look forward to fig season all year. When I used to spend my time in the UK I would buy a pack of fresh figs at the end of summer. I would eat them like an apple, all of them in one sitting! I could never get enough of them.
What You Will Need To Make The Dairy Free Fig and Kale Salad:
Kind of gave that one away with the name. Fresh are best and they are usually available late summer in stores.
Any kind will do but I love the really sweet ones that come out this time of year in this salad. I usually use purplish gum drop or concord grapes for their taste and colour but you could use green candy floss grapes for sweetness. If you want a tangy bite go for a really firm green seedless grape. They will balance the sweet dressing well.
I go through the steps on making these but basically you need to cook them low and slow to bring our the sugar in the onions and cook it. I often make up a big batch and keep them in the fridge for 2-3 days and use them in various dishes to save time. Some people add a bit of balsamic vinegar or even sugary pop to kick start the caramelisation. If you do this make sure there is just a little bit or your onions will taste of cola.
Washed and ribs taken out. make sure to massage it to make it not as tough. This website, The Cookful, has a great explanation on how and why you do this. I use a similar system for salads but this is explained well.
Or any other large safe for you seed you can eat raw to add texture. The fig and kale salad is all about texture.
Dairy-free herbed cheese-
We use Boursin Dairy-free herb and garlic that we get at our grocer but you can use any soft cheese that is safe for you. If you have a favourite cream cheese substitute you can flavour your own. Try it with herbs de province or thyme and oregano with garlic to make a similar one if you cannot use of find D-F Boursin.
A Skillet -
To fry up the onions and get them nice and caramelised brown.
A Heat Proof Frying Spoon or Cooking Spatula-
To move around the onions and make sure they don't catch on the bottom of the pan. The implement will need to be strong enough to be able to scrape the bottom of the pan as needed.
To wash the grapes and kale and let them dry.
To help the kale dry very well before plating the greens.
Knife and Cutting Board-
To slice the grapes, figs, and onions. Tip: Halve the grapes first then cut the figs, then slice the onions so the fruit doesn't take on the taste of raw onions.
Liquid Measuring Cup and whisk
To measure the dressing into the cup and to mix it in. The whisk to combine the dressing well. Instead of a whisk we sometimes use a frother to mix our dressings and help them immulsify.
A small pot and spatula-
For the balsamic reduction in the dressing a pot is needed to heat it and simmer the balsamic dressing to a thick sweet syrup. A Spatula is best to keep the bottom from burning on and to get all the reduction out of the pot into the dressing.
A Large Salad Bowl/ or Individual Salad Bowls or Plates-
If you are plating the salad for a family style dinner use a large salad bowl. For individual meals or at a dinner party plate into individual salad plates or bowls.
How To Make The Fig and Kale Salad
Caramelise the onions in a skillet on low/medium with a bit of olive oil. Let them cool while dividing the washed, bruised, and de-veined kale. Top the kale with the figs, caramelised onions, small pea sized chinks of D/F Boursin, grapes, and pumpkin seeds.
An Adaptation of This Recipe
Spinach, rocket, endive or a mix of all three to replace the kale is a really great option. If kale is expensive or not available where you are. Avoid butter lettuce as it is too soft a texture for this salad.
If Dairy Free Boursin isn't available in your area you can make a similar version by adding a few fresh herbs, thyme, oregano, or herbs de provence and minced garlic and shallots, to softened vegan cream cheese. Mix it well and let it get to maximum flavour over 4-12 hours, if possible. Follow the same adding of pea sized chunks as with the dairy Boursin in the recipe.
For a warmed version off the fig and kale salad try slightly heating it up on the stove top. You can also saute up the kale, grapes, and pumpkin seeds lightly with the caramelised onions, toss the dressing in right at the end to coat. Right before removing from the heat add the fig and heat for a minute. The dairy free Boursin should be added right at plating and serving.
How to Vegan-ise the Salad Recipe and Other Substitutions:
There are two main reasons that this Fig and Kale Salas recipe is not vegan. The first being the figs and the second the honey. The honey is pretty easy to sort out why it isn't vegan. It is the direct product of an animal. The figs can be tricky. Some vegans will eat them and some won't and we see much debate over whether they are vegan of not. There is also debate over honey but in our experience few vegans will eat bee honey.
The figs require the fig wasp to pollinate them. In return the figs then offer a safe place for some of the wasps to live. The flower of a fig is like a dandelion before it opens and the wasps don't stay in the figs to die generally but if they do the fig absorbs their bodies. You won't find wasps inside the fig. Because of this act of animal absorption the fruit becomes non vegan as per the definition of some vegans as an animal was used in its production, not unlike honey making.
There is a really informative article on Open Learn about the fig and wasp relationship and how neither could exist without the other. What we find difficult to sort out is there are differing source that site all figs use the fig wasp and some that say there are some that pollinate without wasps. WE will leave that debate up to those that study figs and wasps.
What to Use Instead of Figs and Honey
Substitute the figs for white fleshed peaches or yellow nectarines which should also be in season. If they are really ripe and juicy they will lend the best taste to this recipe.
To sort out the second ingredient, honey, you can substitute the honey in the dressing for maple syrup. There is however, vegan honey available in some areas or you can make it yourself. The vegan honey is usually a syrup made from dandelions and used in the same way as you would animal based honey. Vegan honey can be found often at farmers markets and natural foods stores, in our experience.
How to Best Keep the Fig and Kale Salad For Later Use
This fig and kale salad recipe will keep in the fridge without the dressing for 24 hour, but with the dressing on 20 mins in the fridge. If dressing is already on and the salad isn't in the fridge it is best served immediately. The salad, If left in its element phase will keep for 48 hours. The caramelised onions should be stored in a well sealed container to not flavour and taint other dishes.
Sadly, leafy salads do not freeze well.
There is no reheating necessary. The caramelised onion should be cooled or chilled before adding to the salad. They can be eaten chilled. If extras are being eaten on toast or a steak, they can be reheated in the microwave for 25 seconds.
What To Serve With This Salad
This fig and kale salad is excellent as a meal as it is, either lunch or dinner. It also makes a fab side for a family roast dinner like meatloaf, at a holiday get together, or with soup for dinner. For a dinner party it makes a great starter salad or side salad at a large family gathering.
Other Recipes You May Enjoy
- Salad Ingredients
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small white onion sliced thin
- 2 figs sliced
- 1 cup kale torn massaged and deveined
- ¼ c whole champagne grapes or other seedless red grapes quartered
- 2 Tbsps Boursin dairy-free herb cheese
- 1 tbsps Pumpkin seeds
- Dressing Ingredients
- ½ C Balsamic vinegar reduced to ¼ c on the stove by simmering
- 2 tbsps honey
- Juice of ½ lime
- Leaves of 1 fresh oregano sprig
- ¼ c Olive oil
- In a skillet heat olive oil over low-medium heat.
- Add onions, stir often making sure they don’t burn. Cook 15 mins or until caramelised. To speed up the caramelisation, you can add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
- Put kale in bowl, top with cooled caramelised onions, pumpkin seeds, cheese in chunks, grapes, and fig slices.
- To make the dressing. In the skillet used to caramelise the onions, over a low-med heat bring the balsamic vinegar to a simmer until reduced by half and thick enough it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.
- In a heat proof bowl mix honey, olive oil, balsamic reduction, lime juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir well to mix.
- Pour on dressing and serve.