Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spinach Salad with Chicken & Figs

You know those "I can't believe I've lived this long with out ____" moments?  I have them frequently.  A great pair of heels, a fun shade of nail polish, a fantastic bottle of wine- I'm sure I have far too many "life changing" experiences on a weekly basis, to really be taken seriously.  Not surprisingly, many of these moments coincide with my discovery of new ingredients and flavor combinations.  This summer, I definitely had one of those moments with figs.  Up until a couple months ago, I had never eaten a fresh fig.  And now that I'm rather obsessed with this little fruit that manages to be sweet yet slightly tart simultaneously, it's hard to imagine how it ever slipped me by in the first place.  The only place I know to lay blame is the Fig Newton.  I am not a fan.  Thankfully, fresh figs and their distant cookie cousins are completely different entities.  So if you've been scared off for similar reasons, have no fear!

3 cups of spinach, rinsed and dried (I love me a big salad)
1 chicken breast
4 black mission figs, quartered
2 tbsp. sliced, toasted almonds
Shaved parmesan cheese, to taste

Balsamic vinaigrette:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Small squeeze lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste 

This is an extremely simple salad to make, but I guarantee you'll have everyone thinking it's much fancier.  I mean how often do figs make an appearance at the lunch table?  Begin by simply grilling a chicken breast on your grill, grill pan (the best alternative if you live in a city apartment where grilling access has been deprived of you, like me! I'm not bitter about that or anything...) or simply in a saute pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper on both sides.  Remove from pan when cooked through and allow to rest and cool on a chopping block.  Add rinsed and dried spinach to a large bowl.  Chop stems off of figs, cut them into quarter sections and add to bed of spinach.  Slice cooled chicken breast and incorporate along with figs.  Toss in sliced almonds and top with shavings of parmesan cheese.  Pack it all up along with this simple vinaigrette dressing on the side.  Dress your salad at lunch time and enjoy!  Hurry and pick up this delicious fruit before the end of October, while they're at their peak.

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