We’ve come to the end of a season. Last night someone relayed that while they loved my first-baked apple pie of the season, it reminded them, cruelly, of autumn. Desperate to put the brakes on summer and its warm, sunlit nights and tawny skin, they lamented the return of sweaters, snow and the mania that is the holiday season. And do I wish that I would have served up this simple, summery salad replete with tart blackberries, juicy roasted figs and salty pistachios, because it would have been the last day on the shore.
Years ago I traveled with a friend to Miami. It was our last summer together — she was driving cross-country to Los Angeles to make a life, while I returned to New York set on destroying one — and we parked ourselves on a quiet beach, keeping time. Someone pushed a cart through the hot sand, serving ceviche to beachcombers, while we stared at the cold waves that crested, turning black from the clouds overhead. We knew a storm was close, but chose to remain. At one point my friend suggested that we stay longer, try to catch some sun, as if the sun were a thing that one could throw a net over, could catch, and I replied, there is no more sun.
That would be the last day we spend together as good of friends as we were then. Time passes. Possibly this is one of the reasons I loathe summer — it megaphones the finality of things. All the light will inevitably fall to dark. All of the waves will swell, crest and foam black.
But I digress.
As I was thinking about this salad, I was contemplating roasting squash and adding apples sautéed in pumpkin butter to a bed of arugula/kale. Because what makes this salad sing is the fact that I’ve juxtaposed something roasted, yielding (figs/squash) with the sweetness of an acerbic leaf (arugula/kale). So although figs are singing their final siren song, either save this for a warmer time, or swap in the squash and rock out some apple slices.
For the salad
4 cups arugula, packed
2 cups spinach, packed
1 cup fresh figs
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
For blackberry vinaigrette
1 cup ripe blackberries
juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 shallot (minced)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper
On a large cooking sheet, quarter the figs and dress them in a little drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes on 400. While the figs are roasting, blitz the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Once the figs and dressing are done, toss all ingredients and serve!