I love arugula. It is, perhaps, my favorite green. Some years back I worked in a French restaurant and one of the salads we made was a simple concoction of arugula, walnuts, and asiago cheese tossed together and placed on top of sliced pears. The dressing was nothing more than some very nice EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
I have riffed on that salad ever since my days at that restaurant, changing the fruit with the seasons and playing with different cheeses. I usually don't change the dressing, though, as I really like how the EVOO's sometimes spiciness and grassy flavors can intertwine themselves beautifully with the arugula.
Recently I made a version of this salad using manchego cheese and deeply toasted walnuts. The fruit I chose was figs. The figs this year have been orgasm quality so I use them as much as I can. For the dressing I made a simple vinaigrette with black fig vinegar and Dijon mustard. I topped the salad with a few cuts of grilled saddle of rabbit for would make a wonderful light lunch.
Oh, and a note on the figs. Those little babies you see on the plate are called Sierra Figs. The are a new breed of fig that closely resemble the Calamyrna Fig. They are a little smaller and more durable than the latter but have a similar buttery, caramel-like flavor that just oozes with love. They taste like really good foreplay.
Summer Salad with Grilled Rabbit
2 Rabbit Tenderloins
4 Fresh Figs, quartered
½ # Arugula
½ cup Manchego Cheese, grated
¼ cup Walnuts, chopped and toasted
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
3 Tbsp. Roasted Fig Vinegar
½ cup EVOO
Thyme Leaves for garnish
Mix the mustard and vinegar together and slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a grill or grill pan and season the rabbit with salt, pepper, and EVOO. Grill the rabbit until it is just tender, about 1 minute per side.
Toss together the arugula, manchego, and walnuts and season with salt and pepper. Add some of the dressing and toss again so that the leaves are nicely coated. Arrange the salad on plates, putting the quartered figs around the edges.
Slice the tenderloin and arrange it around the figs. Drizzle a little more of the dressing on the figs and tenderloins. Sprinkle the thyme leaves around the salad and serve.
Serves 4 – 6