Arugula Hazelnut Salad w/ Fig Balsamic

When I'm on vacation enjoying the local cuisine (in this case-tacos, guacamole & margaritas) sometimes I start to miss my regular eating routine. Although I've been known to say that I can eat Mexican food and never tire of it, I learned that in reality that's not entirely true. My tastebuds were craving gigantic bowls of kale salads. I wanted big salads full of arugula and ones that encourage my hippie sensibilities. I needed salad like WHOA by day three of my vacation.


If you eat fries in Mexico, do they count as Mexican food?

Don't answer that.

I had a salad like this at Chez Panisse last year. It's simple, delicate and yet with the hazelnuts & shaved Parmesan it's actually pretty hearty. It also includes a figgy balsamic that helps balance out the peppery bite of the arugula. Have you tried fig jam in a salad dressing? You should.

A salad like this gets me right back on track with my taste buds.

Tacos? I think I'll have to wait a few days.

And we're off!

Let's make the dressing first.

What goes in the dressing? A few bits of chopped red onion. Adds a subtle kick. Rounds out the sweetness of the figs.

If you have a shallot, use a shallot. I have been known to forget that shallots exist.

Figs! That's right. I use a fig jam for this dressing. It's a good cheat into the world of fig. Two spoonfuls and you have a nice figgy base for your dressing.

Mix the ingredients in a jar. Put the lid on the jar and we have instant dressing.

You might even be able to find a fig balsamic. Can you imagine how meta that salad dressing would be?

Hazelnuts! Hello! We need to toast you. Let's get those skins off of you and enhance your flavor.

After roasting in the oven at 350F for about 5-8 minutes, they're ready to get covered in a towel.

We're gonna slightly steam them so we can brush the skins off. It's alchemy! Rub the hazelnuts back & forth and voila! Skins come right now. I totally used a paper towel for this. I know I just told you towel...

Parmesan is another main ingredient in this salad. I adore getting bites of salad with shaved cheese.

It's both creamy and salty.

Now we chop up the nuts.

And let's get our ingredients together.

Put the hazelnuts and arugula in a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing on top.

Stir it up.

Gently fold in the shaved Parmesan.


This is the type of salad I crave when I crave salad.

All of my favorite flavors combined!

Arugula Hazelnut Salad w/ Fig Balsamic

serves 2

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fig jam
  • 2 tablespoons red onion minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 5 oz. (about 6 cups) arugula
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts & chopped
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmegiano Reggiano cheese

In a small jar mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fig jam and red onion. Season dressing with salt & pepper. Lid jar and shake until dressing is well incorporated. In a large bowl, toss the arugula and hazelnuts with the dressing. Add the shaved Parmesan, lightly toss and serve in two large bowls.

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  • Amanda
    February 25, 2013

    This salad sounds unbelievable! And the pictures are gorgeous!

  • February 25, 2013

    The dressing sounds amazing...and the hazelnut crunch in the salad? Oh, behave!

  • Madeline
    February 25, 2013

    Yes! Thank you for the recipe!

  • jenny
    February 25, 2013

    this is also the kind of salad I crave when I crave salad. sounds like the perfect addition to this week's lunch roster. :)

  • February 25, 2013

    This dressing sounds amazing! I love figs so much, and have had plenty of them in September salad, but never in a dressing. Genius!

  • February 25, 2013

    Never thought to put jam in salad dressing! So genius. Ps your cutting board is rad.

  • LBG
    February 25, 2013

    Dinner tonight!!!! Thanks Sis xoxo

  • February 25, 2013

    Fig dressing! Yum! The fig jam looks like the filling made with dried figs in homemade fig newtons, which are the ultimate. I have only been able to find fig butter in stores. Where'd you find the jam?

  • February 25, 2013

    I am so making this!

  • February 25, 2013

    Yum! This looks delish. Love the idea of fig jam in a dressing. Good thinkin'!

  • February 25, 2013

    I'm a sucker for all things with hazelnuts! I love that there's fig jam in the dressing too! I just saw fig balsamic here ( and I bought their coconut white balsamic because it is nothing short of amazeballs.

  • February 25, 2013

    I always crave salads after vacation as well. I love a simple arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, pears, and Parmesan; the figs and hazelnuts really take this up a notch. I'm excited to try this out!

  • February 25, 2013

    this is a lovely salad. I like the fig notes and shaved Parmesan. I also was happy to see that I am not the only one struggling with gaining weight while writing a food blog. It seems to have forced my waistline a few notches larger. I will probably check out that book you're reading once I have the time.

  • February 25, 2013

    Man, I could totally go for that salad right now!

  • February 25, 2013

    I love hazelnuts and am so glad they are becoming more popular. I love the dressing and might even sub out some evoo for hazelnut oil. I love that, too!

  • February 25, 2013


  • February 25, 2013

    I hear you on craving huge bowls of greens while traveling. They always seem nowhere to be found when I need them most, which is why I've been known to dine in grocery stores out of town. Long story. Looks so tasty and perfect. I have a fig infused balsamic that someone gave me that would be ideal for this sitch. welcome home, lady.

    • Tracy
      February 25, 2013

      Riiight?! I swear that all of the salads that they had at our hotel were either cobb or Caesar and you know how healthy those are. I should have cabbed it to a grocery store. Next time!

  • February 25, 2013

    I wanna go to mexico together next time!! can you even imagine? omg it would be off the chain

    • Tracy
      February 25, 2013

      IT WOULD BE NUTS. How can we make it happen?!!!

  • February 25, 2013

    Oh, how I love rocket salad. Or arugula. Makes me feel smart when I sat arugula. Ha! Figgy jam is so pretty with all that seeds. Adds extra fibre.

  • fusilliamy
    February 25, 2013

    I can't wait to try this combo. I've been scared of figs (and without any viable reason) but I soooo want to try this dressing!

    I loved the photos. I feel like the color tone and font seemed perfectly matched. And there's something about the hazelnuts in the scoop and the close up salad with pretty napkin pictures that I found really pleasing.

  • February 26, 2013

    This looks like heaven!

  • February 26, 2013

    Oh Tracy! This salad looks soooo delicious! You totally make me happy. Know what? I was at the grocery yesterday and saw some nuts. I asked myself if I can put some hazelnuts in a salad. And here you are! A perfect salad. Cannot wait to make it. Thank you!!!

    • Tracy
      February 26, 2013


  • February 26, 2013

    Arugula is the BEST salad green ever. I just had a ginormous bowl of it for lunch topped with lentils. Wow...awesome. I wanna try this recipe tonight...would it be weird to have two salads in one day? I think not!

    • Tracy
      February 26, 2013

      I think it would be amazing and I'm proud of you for doing so!

  • Amy
    February 26, 2013

    Totally making this!

    Looks lush x

  • February 26, 2013

    I have a jar of just-roasted and almost-all-peeled ( I don't mind a little skin...) hazelnuts that would love to jump on this lovely salad.

  • February 28, 2013

    I love simple salads like this!

  • March 2, 2013

    This looks amazing! I get that way on vacation too - eating out everyday sounds so heavenly until you begin to feel the effects... Can't wait to try this!!

  • March 8, 2013

    I have made this twice, once for a dinner party and it's delicious. Thank you!

    • Tracy
      March 8, 2013

      That's AMAZING!!

  • Shannon
    March 12, 2013

    Tracy -- have enjoyed your site for months, but I had to tell you I made a little baby side salad after seeing this recipe and it was a game-changer for my usual Monday lunch of Sunday-leftovers-at-my-desk. I cheated and used unsalted roasted hazelnuts from Trader Joe's, and I happened to have a black mission fig balsamic and fig butter on hand...OMG. This will become a recurrent visitor at my table...and my desk!

    • Tracy
      March 12, 2013

      That makes me soo happy! I love the fig butter from Trader Joe's! I love that you can basically buy all the ingredients for this salad there too!

  • Becky
    March 31, 2013

    I made this salad over the weekend and it got devoured! I'm in Florida and the strawberries here are just hitting the end of their season - I'm tempted to try a version of this including strawberries and swapping out the preserves in the balsamic. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!

  • July 19, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe because I made it recently and it tastes so incredible. I love how perfect the arugula tastes with the dressing. Thanks for the recipe!

  • November 19, 2013

    Tracy this looks so good! did you make the fig jam or is it store bought? it looks wonderful!

    • Tracy
      November 19, 2013

      I bought the fig jam!

      • November 20, 2013

        yum would you share what brand? it looks so good!! im in need of some

        • Tracy
          November 20, 2013

          I think it was from The Girl & The Fig (it's a restaurant in Northern California)

  • Jenna
    January 18, 2014

    I just made this salad and it was amazing, so good!

  • February 21, 2014

    UNBELIEVABLE!! My neighbor has a fig tree, made big batches of fig jam and now this amazing salad is my absolute favorite!! I use hazelnut oil to really send it over the TOP!! Thanks so Much.

  • Alyssa
    July 30, 2014

    This is my husband and I's go-to entertaining salad. We've made it about 3-5 times so far. Probably my favorite salad period.

  • Katy
    October 19, 2014

    This is the perfect restaurant-quality simple salad! I added sautéed/blackened shrimp to round it out for my lunch. Thank you!

    • Tracy
      October 19, 2014

      Thanks Katy!!

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