Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
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About This Recipe

Hello, Napa Valley food enthusiasts, amateur home cooks, and wine lovers! It's Lily, and today I want to share with you my delicious Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe—a perfect embodiment of the Napa Valley's fresh, vibrant flavors and farm-to-table ethos.

Creating this recipe was inspired by the picturesque landscape of Napa Valley and the abundance of local produce found at farmers' markets. With its focus on fresh ingredients and harmonious flavors, this salad is a reflection of the culinary spirit of Northern California.

While this salad makes a delightful starter or light meal on its own, it pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes. For a true Napa Valley dining experience, consider serving this salad alongside a grilled fish or chicken entrée, and perhaps some roasted or grilled vegetables, like asparagus or baby carrots.

For dessert, a poached pear with honey, mascarpone, and a touch of local dessert wine, such as a late harvest Riesling, would be a delightful choice. Alternatively, consider serving a cheese board featuring a selection of local artisanal cheeses, fresh fruits, and nuts to complement the flavors of the salad.

To ensure the freshest, most flavorful ingredients for this recipe, source the arugula, figs, and goat cheese from local farmers' markets like the Napa Farmers' Market or St. Helena Farmers' Market. Don't forget to look for a high-quality balsamic vinegar from one of Napa Valley's many gourmet shops, such as the Napa Valley Olive Oil Company or the Oxbow Public Market.

Pairing this salad with a local wine is a must, and a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or a well-balanced Chardonnay would be an ideal choice. Look for wineries like St. Supéry or Cakebread Cellars, both known for producing exceptional whites that will enhance the flavors of this delightful salad.

In conclusion, my Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe captures the essence of the Napa Valley wine country's culinary scene. By using locally sourced ingredients and pairing the dish with Napa Valley wines, you can bring a taste of this beautiful region to your table and create a memorable meal.

Enjoy your Napa Valley-inspired culinary journey, and happy cooking!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Fresh Figs

Why Fresh Figs Shine in This Salad

Figs, often considered the jewels of the fruit world, are a prime example of nature’s sweetness and versatility. Native to the Mediterranean region, these little fruits pack a punch when it comes to flavor, health benefits, and culinary uses:

  1. Flavor Profile: Fresh figs come with a succulent, mildly sweet taste and a slightly chewy texture. Their unique taste perfectly complements the tanginess of goat cheese and the sharpness of arugula.
  2. Health Benefits: They're rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and a range of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and iron.
  3. Culinary Flexibility: Apart from salads, figs are a fantastic addition to desserts, jams, cereals, and even main dishes.

How to Perfectly Toast Walnuts

A Simple Guide to Toasting Walnuts for Enhanced Flavor

Toasting nuts, including walnuts, elevates their natural oils, intensifying the flavor and adding a delightful crunch. Follow these steps for perfect toasted walnuts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 5-10 minutes. It's essential to keep an eye on them and stir occasionally to ensure even toasting and prevent burning.
  4. Cool the toasted walnuts on a plate before adding them to your dish. This stops the cooking process and maintains their crunchiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I substitute another cheese for goat cheese? Absolutely! If you're not a fan of goat cheese, feta or ricotta salata are excellent alternatives that maintain the salad's creamy texture and tangy flavor.
  2. What other nuts can I use in place of walnuts? Pecans, pine nuts, or slivered almonds would be delightful in this salad, adding different textures and flavors.
  3. How can I store leftovers? Store any leftover salad without the dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Store the vinaigrette separately to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
  4. Are there any allergens in this recipe? This recipe contains tree nuts (walnuts) and dairy (goat cheese). Always check ingredient labels if you're cooking for someone with food allergies.
  5. Can I use dried figs instead of fresh? While fresh figs are preferred for their juicy texture, dried figs can be used in a pinch. Rehydrate them in warm water for 30 minutes to soften before adding to the salad.

Tips for Success

  1. Quality Over Quantity: This salad's charm lies in its fresh and high-quality ingredients. Always opt for the freshest arugula, ripe figs, and quality balsamic vinegar for the best taste experience.
  2. Dress to Impress: To avoid a soggy salad, always dress your salad right before serving. This ensures that the arugula remains crisp and the ingredients retain their individual flavors.
  3. Wine Pairing: While a Napa Valley Rosé is recommended, also consider pairing with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a well-balanced Chardonnay to elevate your dining experience.

Recipe Overview

Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


For the salad:

  • 6 cups fresh arugula, washed and dried
  • 8 fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula, quartered figs, crumbled goat cheese, and toasted walnuts.
  2. To make the balsamic vinaigrette, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and honey in a small bowl until emulsified. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Just before serving, drizzle the desired amount of balsamic vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently to combine. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Divide the Arugula Salad with Figs, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic Vinaigrette among four plates and serve with a crisp Napa Valley Rosé for a refreshing, wine country-inspired meal that truly captures the essence of our beautiful region.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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