As a mostly-vegetarian, I dread the words, “but you can just have the salad, right?” Thankfully, in the years since I first became a no-fur, no-feathers eater, vegetarian options at most restaurants have become much more common. Still, every once in a while, I’ll be faced with a meal of lettuce, dinner rolls, and maybe a few potatoes, if luck is with me, and it isn’t a clam bake. I take these moments in stride; having an unconventional diet means that sometimes I just have to make do. But I do get so tired of salads, and the assumption that being a vegetarian means that all I want to eat are vegetables, and the more problematic (and usually gendered) association of salads with dieting and weight hysteria. When I have a salad as a meal, I don’t want to be dreaming of pumpernickel bagels and cream cheese afterwards (although I do love dreaming of pumpernickel bagels).
This salad of mine was really simple and quick. I was inspired by some fresh figs I found at the market; not cheap, but definitely a worthwhile treat. Figs are quite delicate and don’t have a very long shelf life, but they are really versatile and really good for you. Eat them as is, throw them in some plain yogurt with a bit of raw honey, your morning oatmeal, or even a pasta dish. I love them tossed with roasted vegetables and some fresh linguine or butternut ravioli, and I am dying to try Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for fig challah, which would have been the perfect addition to this little meal of mine. Sigh.
Anyway, the salad: I used Organic Girl’s I heart baby kale lettuce mix, my current go-to in the prepackaged greens department, with some fresh oregano thrown on top. Then I added the pomegranate seeds. I tried to trap as much of the excess pomegranate juice as I could in a measuring cup, to use in my dressing along with my favorite fig-infused balsamic vinegar and some extra virgin olive oil. Then came the figs, cut into fourths, some perfectly ripe avocado, and tempeh that I lightly cooked in a frying pan with just a touch of olive oil. I added some of Cypress Grove Chevre’s Purple Haze goat cheese, which is probably my favorite cheese ever, because it is lovely and because it brings together the awesomeness of goat cheese and the awesomeness of Jimi Hendrix in one little round bundle of happiness. Finally, I sprinkled on some fennel pollen and my pomegranate-balsamic dressing, impatiently took this picture, and sat down at my tiny counter to feast. I am now incredibly full and incredibly happy, though I may still dream about pumpernickel bagels tonight.