This pretty fig salad with pomegranates, avocado and balsamic dressing is a festive addition to any dinner party or holiday event. Ready in 20 minutes.
We show you how to extract the arils (seeds) from a pomegranate or you can take a shortcut and buy them fresh and packaged in some grocery stores.
My sister Kathy brought this fig pomegranate salad as a contribution to a recent dinner party I was hosting. Winner! The combination of figs, pomegranate seeds, avocado and tangy, creamy goat cheese work really well.
A balsamic dressing is the perfect accompaniment. And pretty much my ‘go-to’ dressing for many of the salads I make. I suggest using a really good balsamic vinegar to get that deep (non acid-y) flavor and the right sweetness.
This festive fig salad has great a great balance of sweet and tart, creamy and crunchy. Fresh figs are a treat if you can find them.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Salad greens: Use any you like – spring mix, arugula, baby spinach and romaine are good choices.
Fresh figs and a pomegranate: See tips below on how to choose the best figs and pomegranate. Fresh figs are the star of this salad. They don’t have a long shelf life so buy them close to when you need them. Dried figs can be substituted if needed – just note that the texture is much firmer and chewier and the taste is sweeter and slightly nutty.
Vinaigrette: We use a balsamic dressing for this salad. Feel free to choose another kind such as poppy seed or orange vinaigrette..
Variation and substitutes:
- Substitute the goat cheese with firm ricotta (milder), feta cheese (stronger), gorgonzola or parmesan cheese.
- Add crushed roasted nuts for extra crunch e.g. walnuts, pecans, almonds, pine nuts.
- Omit the avocado and goat cheese and keep it simple.
Step by step instructions
Extract the pomegranate seeds by splitting the pomegranate in half then whacking each half over a bowl to release the seeds.
Tips: How to Choose Figs and Pomegranates
Figs: Fresh figs should be soft to the touch and not mushy. They should be clean and dry with no cracks in the skin. Just cut off the stem before slicing. Fig season is late summer and early Fall. Dried figs are available year round.
Pomegranates: Choose a fresh pomegranate with a rind that is heavy for its size, bright or dark red and not wrinkly. The darker and deeper the color, the sweeter the seeds. Lighter colors usually mean it’s not yet ripe and the seeds will be very tart. You’re looking to get deep red seeds. (The seeds in the picture are not the best!). Pomegranates are in season September to December in the northern hemisphere.
The whole salad takes only 10 minutes to make when you take a couple of shortcuts.
- Use pre-washed and dried lettuce;
- Buy pomegranate seeds, often sold in a sealed cup at the grocery store instead of extracting them yourself from a fresh pomegranate.
- Use a good quality balsamic dressing instead of making it.
- Buy fresh figs already packaged and sealed.
The salad can be assembled several hours ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge. If using avocados, be sure to sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Or cut them just before serving. Also add the balsamic dressing just before serving.
The pomegranate seeds can be extracted several days ahead and kept in the fridge in a sealed container. They can also be extracted and frozen – see recipe notes for instructions.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for a day or two in the fridge.
What to serve with fig salad
The fig salad is a lovely side dish for roast turkey breast with pear chutney, a prime rib roast, vegetable strudel, citrus chicken with carrots, prunes and pistachios, pecan crusted salmon and sous vide brisket with maple soy apricot sauce.
It’s also a great salad for any buffet table or potluck.
More party salads
- citrus salad over greens
- festive winter salad recipe
- tropical fruit salad
- roasted vegetable salad with quinoa (3 sides in 1)
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Fig Salad With Pomegranate Seeds & Balsamic Dressing
- 10 ounces spring mix lettuce for 4 people
- 6 fresh figs, stems removed, sliced into quarters or eighths. (dried figs can be used if necessary)
- 1 pomegranate (to get 1/4 cup/40 grams or more seeds)
- 1 avocado, peeled, cubed into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces (toss with 1 teaspoon lemon juice to prevent browning if not serving right away)
- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (optional) firm ricotta is milder and ok too.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 clove
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- EXTRACT POMEGRANATE SEEDS: Roll pomegranate on counter to loosen seeds. Cut pomegranate in half. Taking the first half, hold pomegranate, seed side down, over a bowl. Smack the outside with a wooden spoon (hard!) to release the seeds. Repeat with the other half. Note 1 for alternative way to extract seeds.
- MAKE BALSAMIC DRESSING: Place all dressing ingredients in a lidded container. Shake until blended. Alternatively, whisk ingredients together until well blended.
- ASSEMBLE SALAD: Place lettuce in a large, shallow serving bowl. Top with figs, avocado (if using), goat cheese (if using) and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle on dressing just before serving.
- Alternative way to extract pomegranate seeds: Here’s another way to extract seeds from Cooks Illustrated.
- Use firm ricotta instead of goat cheese
- Use other types of vinaigrette dressing such as poppy seed or orange vinaigrette.
- Add crushed roasted nuts for extra crunch.
- Omit the avocado and goat cheese and keep it simple.
- Make Ahead: The salad can be assembled ahead of time and kept covered in the fridge for a few hours. If using avocados, be sure to sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Or, better yet, cut them just before serving. Add the balsamic dressing just before serving. Pomegranate seeds can be extracted days ahead. The balsamic dressing can also be made ahead can be stored ahead as well.
- How to Store Pomegranate Seeds: Pomegranate arils (seeds) can be extracted 4-5 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or zippered bag. They can also be frozen by laying them on a parchment lined pan, freezing them for an hour, then transferring them to a sealed container or bag.