Recipe: Fig, Sweet Potato & Labne Salad

Words by
Georgina Reid
Images by
Daniel Shipp
| February 12, 2015

Any food that works as an entrée, main, AND desert rates very highly in my book. Yep, it could be said my two favourite foods, cheese and figs, do the menu multitask exceptionally well. Why would you bother eating anything else?

We’re talking about figs this month because I think they are beautifully designed, and, as you may have gleaned from my words above, I rate them rather highly. If you want to know more about their history, botany, and how to grow them you should read this. If you want to make a ridiculously delicious summer salad with them, stay right here.

Now, my confession: I don’t follow recipes very often. Like never. I thought it was a problem until I realised my inability to follow recipes means I’m actually quite good at making them up. Writing them down is another issue entirely….

This salad recipe was made up by me. I was inspired by this recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi and then took it somewhere else with the addition of the orange blossom water, fennel seeds and walnuts.

I like my salads to be big. A bunch of leaves and a smattering of dressing don’t cut it for me. There’s gotta be a whole meal in there – a salad needs crunch (nuts or croutons), a filler (like a grain or, heaven forbid, a carb), some greenery, and dairy. Always dairy. (These rules are based on nothing other than what I like eating – please don’t think I’m speaking from a position of dietary expertise. I’m not.)

This salad ticks all those boxes, probably because I made it. It’s sweet, summery and filling, but also, thanks to the labne and shallots, rather zippy too. That’s not really a food word but you know what I mean.

Fig, Sweet Potato & Labne Salad With Honey & Fennel Seed Dressing

  • 3 small sweet potatoes
  • 8 figs
  • 6 shallots
  • A big handful of walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Around 200gms labne

Dressing

  • 3 tbs honey
  • 3tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs orange blossom water
  • 2 tbs white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs fennel seeds, toasted and crushed in mortar & pestle
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to approx. 180 degrees C.

Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then cut halves into batons. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on baking tray. Bake for around ½ hour, or until nice and crunchy on the outside and soft in the centre.

Rinse shallots and cut into thin strips around 10cm long.

Throw all the dressing ingredients together in a small jar and shake shake shake. Taste it and if it needs a bit more oil, honey, vinegar, or salt, add it. Remember, recipes like rules, are meant to be broken. This is a guide only…

Assembly

Arrange the (slightly cooled) sweet potato on a big platter or shallow salad bowl. Scatter the walnuts and shallots over the top, add plenty of generous dollops of labne and then STOP. It’s fig time.

Get those small and tender little guys out, give them a gentle rinse and slowly tear them apart. Observe the little flowers on their inside, and notice the hole in their bottom for their waspy pollinators. Try not to loose control and devour them prior to adding to the salad, but if it happens, it happens. Enjoy it.

Take a deep breath and place the figs on top of the pile. Channel your inner food stylist and make them look like they’ve just fallen from the tree and accidentally landed on top of the salad bowl and split open with excitement.

Once it’s looking beautiful give the dressing a final shake and pour over the salad.

Eat it. With a loaf of really good bread and some proper butter. And wine, it needs wine. Chardonnay, I reckon, but I’m no expert.

Serves 4-6 as a shared dish or main accompanied by crusty bread.


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