Strawberry Arugula Salad w/Fig-Balsamic Vinaigrette

Whenever I see sweet flavors mixed in with typically savory dishes, I usually flinch. While I think some of these pairings are awesome, I simply have not had the palette for that clash of two flavors.

I then first got a taste for it at a restaurant, with a strawberry and spinach salad I had with balsamic vinaigrette. Having really enjoyed it, I set off to discover new pairings of sweet and savory that apprehensive people like me might enjoy. 

Enter this strawberry arugula salad and the fig-balsamic vinaigrette that rocked my tastebuds into changing their minds about the sweet-savory marriage.

The bitterness of the arugula is just the perfect complement to help balance out the sweetness from the strawberries, and also the fig in the balsamic dressing. The combination of ingredients in this salad offer an awesome balance of vitamins and healthy fats that'll tide you over until your next meal. You can add some grilled chicken on there for an extra protein boost, as I like to, or you can also add vegan/vegetarian protein options on there to boost the protein content in this salad.

Anyone else get intimidated by making your own salad dressings at home? I definitely still do, even though really, it's quite easy. For this one, all you need is a food processor and measuring spoons. 

If you're shorter on time, you can skip the cooking portion with the figs and shallots, but I highly suggest it as it offers a deeper, more concentrated flavor. It also brings out the true flavor of the balsamic, so this dressing would be a good one to use that special, nice balsamic you save up on.

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Fig-Balsamic Vinaigrette (gluten-free and vegan)

*makes for two salads, recipe makes for 1/2 cup of dressing total


For Salad:
4 handfuls of baby arugula
1/2 dozen strawberries, sliced
2 tbsp pine nuts (pignolias)
1 tbsp golden flaxseed (I used roasted ones, to give a nuttier flavor)

For Dressing:
1/2 dozen black mission figs (if using other larger figs, adjust amount accordingly)
1 tsp shallots, diced
1 tsp honey (use agave or maple if vegan)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


1. Scoop out the insides of the figs (just the jammy parts) using a spoon, and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook diced shallots for 3-5 minutes until softened and a bit translucent. Lower heat to medium-low, and add jammy parts of figs, honey (or agave/maple if vegan), and balsamic to saucepan. Cook until the mixture becomes a bit sticky and balsamic reduces a bit, for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.

2. Transfer fig mixture into a food processor. Blend until mixture reaches a smooth consistently. While food processor is running (lid on!), drizzle olive oil in SLOWLY, to properly emulsify. Transfer dressing to an airtight jar for storage (can refrigerate for about 4-6 days).

3. For salad, toss all ingredients (save strawberries) together in a mixing bowl. For each serving of salad, add 2 tbsp of dressing. Mix well, top with strawberries, and serve!

Looking for more salad ideas?