Fig and Pear Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette from Brooklyn Supper

This post comes from Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper!

In my old Brooklyn neighborhood, I knew all the fig trees by heart. Cold winters meant they did best tucked up against buildings that provided a little heat and shelter from the wind; even then, they needed a little help from a person to really thrive in the face of hungry squirrels, polar vortices, and ill-timed deluges. During my daily walks, I kept an eye out for these fig-tenders, hoping I might befriend one and find myself the beneficiary of any fig surplus they might face. Because in the east, if you want local figs, you’ll usually need to find (and pick) them yourself.

In California, figs are a different story. They have a more predictable season – with a brief harvest in June and another in the early fall – and are widely available, even from small growers. Happily, California is kind enough to share with the rest of us, and for a few months a year, you can track down a number of wonderful varieties no matter where you live.

The fall figs are rolling in now, lending their pretty jewel tones to all kinds of inspired dishes. Fresh figs are fleeting and delicious, and are best enjoyed simply. That’s what this fall salad is all about, the foods that are great right now – young frisée, not yet overly bitter; pears, possibly overripe (because they’re pears), but really good anyway; and a big pile of figs. The mix of bitter and sweet flavors in the salad called for an irreverent dressing, and this one is dotted with vanilla beans and flecks of lemon zest. I was concerned that the vanilla would overwhelm the more quiet flavors of the fruits, or maybe just be too much, but it lends a surprisingly subtle depth that bridges the flavors beautifully.

fig and pear salad

fig and pear salad

Fig and Pear Salad with Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette
serves four as a side or two as a light lunch

1 5-inch vanilla bean pod

2 tablespoons lemon juice plus 1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

pinch of sea salt, or more to taste

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch frisée, woody stem removed

1 – 2 ripe Bartlett pears, sliced

10 fresh figs, quartered

fig and pear salad

fig and pear salad

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a small bowl. (Reserve the pod for another use; they’re great for steeping in milk or tea.) Add the lemon juice and zest, and then whisk in vinegar, honey, and sea salt. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified.

Arrange the frisée in a large bowl. Pour half the vinaigrette over the leaves and turn to coat. Tuck the pear slices and figs into the frisée. Finish with a tiny pinch sea salt, several twists of black pepper, and a few more drizzles of dressing. Enjoy!

fig and pear salad

fig and pear salad

Check out more of Elizabeth’s recipes at Brooklyn Supper, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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9 years ago

I love all of those colors! Great recipe, thank you for sharing! The salt and pepper sounds like it’s such a yummy addition.

Warm Regards,

9 years ago

You know I have never tried a fig! They look so good, as does this salad!

9 years ago

now i really really want to eat a fig!

9 years ago

I need to try this one! Btw, thanks for sharing the page. Recipes there are just perfect!

9 years ago

This looks and sounds so good!

9 years ago

pears in salad is my FAVORITE. I’m sure the figs take it over the top!

9 years ago

This looks great except for the figs. Could you use vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean?

9 years ago

Hi Onsra, Sorry to hear you’re not a fig fan! Since vanilla extract is alcohol-based, I don’t think it would work in the dressing.

9 years ago

This looks delicious! Going to have to try and make one ♡

♡ TotallyRoisín | UK Fashion & Lifestyle Blog ♡

9 years ago

wow amazing!

8 years ago

What can be used in the place of frisee? I live in the sticks and they don’t stock it.