This fig salad with spinach and arugula mix, crispy pancetta, cheese and walnuts dressed in fig balsamic vinaigrette is perfect for fall dinner party menu ideas. The combination of sweet and salty and textures makes this fall harvest salad a winning combination.
Best Green Salad for Fall
It’s that time of year again – fig season! Around here there is a very small window of opportunity to use those fresh fruits. It’s literally about a month and a half! And they are so darn good used on a charcuterie party board, in easy hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and fall salads.
I’ve paired fresh figs with fried crispy pancetta and grilled halloumi cheese slices. The sweet creaminess of the figs is balanced by the saltiness of the cured meat and the savory of the cheese.
This beautiful dish is great to serve for a ladies luncheon as a side salad, or an appetizer salad for dinner. It encompasses so many flavors and textures, it’s exactly what we need for a fall menu.
PARTY TIP: Serve this course with chilled Lambrusco for a great wine pairing.
What is Halloumi?
It’s a combination of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk, and popular in Middle Eastern countries. It’s semi-hard with a very firm texture that holds its shape when grilled or fried. That high melting point makes it a great addition to a salad or a meatless dish.
Here are some great substitutions you can use that will still give you the same flavor and texture profile.
- Blue cheese, goat cheese or feta would be a great alternative to halloumi.
- Crispy prosciutto or salami are quite similar to pancetta, each with their own unique flavor. You could also toss in cooked crumbled bacon.
- Pecans are a bit drier and sweeter than walnuts but that would be an amazing balance to the salty meat and cheese. Pistachios or pine nuts as well!
- Dried Figs. If you happen to miss fig season rest assured you can have dehydrated figs year-round.
- Add some walnut oil to the dressing in lieu of the olive oil.
- Use regular flavor balsamic vinegar for the vinaigrette recipe.
- If you like red onion, add some thin slices to this salad.
PARTY TIP: Toasting the walnuts ahead of time will bring out the nutty earthy flavor and add an extra bit of crunch.
What is an Autumn salad?
One of the great things about salads is that they change with the seasons. A summer salad may showcase fresh strawberries, while a winter salad will highlight yummy oranges. A fall salad makes the most out of seasonal produce like figs, apples, or even butternut squash.
What can I do with leftover figs?
Figs are so versatile that there many ways to use extras you might have. Making fig jam is a great way to use up a bunch.
Figs freeze quite well and should be frozen when they are fully ripe. Wash them, dry them and freeze them in an airtight container for up to a year!
If you have a dehydrator, drying them out allows you to keep them for long periods of time and use them throughout the year.
Dinner party salad recipes
- Spinach arugula salad with oranges
- Spinach & Orzo salad recipe
- Roasted grape salad
- Easiest beet & goat cheese salad
- Butternut squash baby kale salad
- Spinach and arugula tomato salad
- 9 fresh figs, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 bag of baby spinach and arugula mix
- 12-15 slices of pancetta
- 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted if desired
- 7-8 ounces halloumi cheese, sliced about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick
- 1/4 cup fig balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic vinegar)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- pinch of salt and pepper
- In a skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side or until it's crisp. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a grill pan or grill to medium heat. Place cheese slices on grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until heated through and grill marks are on cheese. Remove and set aside.
- Place a bed of greens on a serving platter. Add figs down the center of the salad. Place cooked halloumi and pancetta all around salad, and sprinkle walnuts on top.
- Meanwhile, add dressing ingredients to a small jar with a lid, or to a bowl with a whisk. Vigorously shake or whisk until well combined. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad when ready to serve.
You can also fry the halloumi in a skillet if you don't have a grill pan.