Grilled fennel and chicory salad with roasted figs

In my childhood we used to eat dried figs as candy, my mother absolutely loved them and I remember we devoured several packages a week. I do not recall eating fresh figs in those days. In fact I think I did not even know what a fresh fig looked like. And I did not particularly care, I was satisfied with the dried ones. Then I grew older and stopped eating figs somehow and in the end forgot all about them.

That was some decades ago. A few years ago I visited a dear friend who lives in a Mediterranean country. He handed me a fresh fig and I politely declined, it did not appeal to me at all. But he insisted, so in the end I tried….and I fell for the fig again, but now in it’s fresh form! I even planted a fig tree in my own garden upon return (alas, the tree did not survive the Dutch climate).

Nowadays, every time I spot fresh figs on a market of some kind I simply cannot resist the urge to buy lots of them. On the way home I frantically rack my brain about what to do with them this time other than eating them as a snack. This time I bought 8 big juicy fresh figs, I saved a few of them for my daily breakfast fruit salad and the rest of them got to be in this lovely salad!

Isn’t that a tempting sight? I think it is and I can assure you it was sheer delight. The combination of grilled fennel, chicory, Puy lentils, orange bits, red onion, green olives, roasted pistachios and hazelnuts and the dressing of olive oil and orange juice makes turned out to be a great one.

Preparation is also not too difficult: cut the chicory and the fennel in slices, place them on a baking tray, sprinkle with black pepper, pinch of salt and olive oil and roast them for 15 minutes or so at 200℃. Roast the hazelnuts and pistachios in a dry frying pan until they turn golden brown. Cook Puy lentils with a bayleaf in unsalted water until tender. Slice half an orange and cut some pieces of flesh for garnish, squeeze some juice out of the rest of the orange. Slice the onion and olives. Cut the figs in half and fry them with the flesh side in a frying pan with only the tiniest drop of olive oil, just enough to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. Fry them for just a minute or four. Mix the vegetables and the nuts, place the lentils like in the picture, sprinkle the orange bits over it. Pour the orange juice, olive oil and black pepper over everything. Add the olive slices, place the figs and garnish with a few fennel sprigs. Because of the lentils you do not really to add rice or potatoes, but that’s is entirely up to you! Enjoy.