As you may have gathered, I tend to have intense food obsessions. My current obsession is hazelnuts in salads. Prior to a few months ago I had never had hazelnuts in salads. I loved them in desserts, but never considered that they would make an excellent alternative to the overdone walnuts and pecans in salads. Soda and Swine here in San Diego makes a really good apple and hazelnut salad, which I need to figure out how to recreate. Hanna’s Gourmet also does a killer pear and hazelnut salad. These were my first introductions.
Needless to say, I became hooked.
Anyway, this Hazelnut Arugula Salad with Fig Vinaigrette recipe is so good that the first time I made it I didn’t feel the need to change anything about it. Seriously, it’s that good. I made it for the family at Christmas and everyone raved about it. Now that I’ve made it a few times, I can’t help myself and I’ve been tweaking things a little here and there (i.e. type of cheese used and quantity of jam in the dressing). The original recipe can be found on a great blog called Shutterbean.
It’s really easy to make the vinaigrette if you just add everything to a small jar and shake it up. The fig jam works to emulsify everything nicely.
These are the toasted hazelnuts- I toasted them in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, stirring often. Then I put them in a towel and tossed vigorously until (most of) the skins came off. Look at that pretty arugula! It’s really easy to find fresh baby arugula here in California, however if other areas of the country (read: Michigan) where fresh arugula is less accessible, you can substitute with baby greens, herb mix, red leaf lettuce, or bibb lettuce. I would stay away from heartier lettuces like iceberg and romaine because the texture won’t be quite right.
Look at that beautiful salad! This was a delicious lunch. Plus we had some extra cheese to snack on.
Hazelnut Arugula Salad with Fig Vinaigrette
- 6 cups of baby arugula as fresh as possible
- 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano I slice it off with a knife. Additionally, I substituted with gruyere and irish dubliner with excellent results- you just want a nice hard salty cheese
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 4 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon of fig jam
- 1/2 shallot minced (may substitute for 2 tablespoons minced red onion)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine vinegar, oil, jam, and shallot in a small jar. Shake to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare hazelnuts- roast for about 12-15 minutes in a toaster oven set to 350 degrees. Stir often. When they are ready they will be deeply colored and fragrant. Transfer to a kitchen towel and rub together vigorously to remove the shells. Chop and set aside.
- Pour dressing over arugula and toss. Add cheese and hazelnuts.
- Garnish with extra hazelnuts.