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I could have just named this ‘hearty main course salad’, but then I would be neglecting vowels that quinoa and aioli provide. Options abound with this full meal salad. You can eliminate ingredients you don’t have or those you don’t like, but figs and quinoa are a must and I promise that all of the ingredients, from toasted cashews to charred asparagus, make themselves known in each bite.

The recipe showed up, this week, celebrating fig season and a new restaurant. Both come to us by a local chef who added another eating establishment to his much lauded dining group in the Manhattan Beach area. I gotta love a chef from Wisconsin who worked at Charlie Trotter’s and ended up on the west coast. Was I, am I stalking him?

Figs don’t need a band. They are the Beyonce of fruit or of all produce, for that matter. When added to a host of ingredients, they make the whole show come alive. Figs add sweetness to bitter greens like kale or arugula or Lady Gaga and balance salty savory flavors when grilled and served with pork tenderloin or chicken or Jay Z. Figs are on stage right now and they deserve our full attention.

fig & quinoa salad with aioli dollops

Some ingredients are mixed together and others placed on top of the salad before serving. I reorganized some of the original recipe to better control that pesky quinoa which is so tiny it seems to gets into the woodwork. I reduced the portion and mixed it in with just a few ingredients as not to coat everything with tiny pearls. Also, I streamlined the cooking process as much as possible, but checkout crunchtimewarp below, for faster prep ideas.

preptime 30 minutes (or less) 4 – 6 servings


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup+ asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4 tsp. cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, diced and seeded
2 Tbsp capers, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/8 cup 
parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup 
mint, chopped
8-10 fresh black mission figs, cut in quarters
  1. Cook and cool quinoa by laying it out on a paper towel. Cooking takes about 15 minutes, cooling 30 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl mix olive oil, lemon zest and salt – this will be your asparagus marinade and ultimately a light dressing for the salad.
  3. Lightly char asparagus and place in the olive oil mixture to marinate.
  4. Toast cashews in 350° oven for 10 minutes. Chop.
  5. Prepare aioli below.
  6. Gently toss salad ingredients (from quinoa to mint, including oil from the marinade) in a large bowl.
  7. Top salad blend with asparagus, cashews, figs and a couple of aioli dollop.
  8. Finish with lemon juice just before serving.

Sumac Aioli

Makes 1 cup (many uses)

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Reserve and refrigerate remaining aioli for future use.


  • best eliminations: asparagus, cashews, parsley, cucumber
  • less chopping, bigger pieces: i.e. tomatoes in half or whole

recipe adapted from Fishing with Dynamite and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


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