Quinoa salad with Belgian endive, caramelised figs, apple, and thyme-crusted cashew cheese

Let’s go back an entire four weeks in time, when I started writing this post – but did not immediately find the time to finish it:

It’s been unseasonably warm the past few days  and weeks (13 to 18 degrees C), but today it’s raining cats and dogs. Finally true autum weather and time for a hot oat milk cocoa and some cookies. I’ve been picking the last raspberries of our second harvest (perfect for a breakfast of homemade nut granola and unsweetend soy yoghurt) , and the same goes for our fig tree yield. Yesterday I took down the last 2 kg (!) of figs and immediately turned them into jam. Yet another set of jars. My cupboard is now officially crammed, although I have already given away quite some: fig jam (three ways), fig chutney (two ways), cherry jam, cherry-fig jam, cherry-raspberry jam, cherries on syrup and rhubarb compote. Given the fact that we only have a teeny tiny yard, it’s been a productive summer. My rhubarb plant succumbed under the scorching July heat, though, and so did my sorrel.

Some decent part of summer remains stored in our freezer, so that at certain intervals, I can use some figs on pizza or in a salad. Although there are numerous ways to include figs in salads, I last week created one with figs as its centerpiece, together with Belgian endive, apples, walnuts and cashew ‘goat’ cheese. Apart from the cashews, all ingredients are locally sourced. Apples (or pears) and Belgian endive are as popular a pair as both apples and a tangy cashew cheese or figs and cashew cheese, so I decided to just mix them all. No way one could go wrong, I thought, as all these flavours -sweet, bitter, tangy- and textures – soft, crunchy, melty – seem to blend favourably. And so they did.

Quinoa salad with Belgian endive, caramelised figs, apple, and thyme-crusted cashew cheese

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Ingredients

For the breaded cashew cheese:

  • For the cheese ingredients and recipe: see one of my earlier posts
  • For the breading:
    • 3/4 cup panko
    • 1/2 tsp thyme
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup (120 cl) olive oil
  • 1/8 cup (30 cl) walnut oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 cl) red wine vinegar (or a mixture of red balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup (about 3-4 TB) fig jam
  • salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • 1 sweet apple (such as Braeburn or Jonagold)
  • 2 heads of Belgian endive
  • 1 small red onion
  • a decent portion of lamb’s lettuce
  • a handful of toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds
  • 8 fresh figs
  • 1/2 – 1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used red)

Directions

For the breaded cashew cheese

  • prepare cashew cheese mixture according to the recipe
  • take a silpat mat, spoon some mixture onto a serving ring and press, until you end up with a flat round ‘cheese’ – repeat this 4-5 times
  • freeze these cheeses (on the silpat mat) for at least half an hour, or until they have reached a solid consistency so that you can easily take them of the silpat mat
  • bread the cheeses with the panko-herb mixture, and subsequently fry them gently on both sides with some olive oil in a frying pan.

For the vinaigrette

  • mix all ingredients

For the salad

  • cut the figs in half or in quarters and gently let them caramelise in a frying pan with some agave syrup, salt and pepper
  • cook the quinoa
  • mix all ingredients, including the caramelised figs and the quinoa

Drizzle the vinaigrette over your salad, and place the herb-crusted cashew cheese on top of it. And above all: enjoy!

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