Tomato, fig, and goat cheese salad

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Tomato, fig, and goat cheese salad
Many of you know of or have read Michael Pollan’s books (Botany of Desire, The Omnivore’s Dilemma). He writes about lettuce in a chapter on industrial organic. One pound of pre-washed lettuce in a bag provides about 80 calories of food energy. To grow, wash, package, chill and ship the lettuce across the country requires 4600 calories of fossil fuel energy --- about 57 times the caloric value of the food. On average, the foods we eat take 7 to 10 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie we consume. Fortunately, we have options that can make some difference. We can choose to go to a local farmers’ market to buy our lettuces and, in a small way, save a little energy. I haven’t thought about lettuce and other salad greens very much before. Before moving to California many years ago, I never had things hanging out of the sides of my sandwiches and salads only consisted of iceberg lettuce. Then came mung bean sprouts and many new kinds of leafy greens to sample. More and more, salad ingredients got complicated. This week’s spectacularly tasty and easy to make offering uses an old standby, arugula, but also frisee. I didn’t expect the almost vehement opposition to frisee from a family member and other guests. To quote: “Incredibly irritating” and “There’s no there there” and “an aggressive lettuce”. Personally, I think it adds character to the fresh figs (Most figs grown in the United States are grown in California --- we are lucky to get them fresh), tomatoes, and other ingredients.

Servings: 8


  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 heirloom tomatoes of different color, cut into wedges
  • 6-8 figs, cut into quarters
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 12 Kalamata olives, sliced
  • Small handful fresh basil, torn or cut into strips
  • 4 cups frisee, torn into pieces
  • 2 cups arugula, torn into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Whisk the vinegar and olive oil together in a large salad bowl. Toss the dressing gently with the rest of the ingredients. I’m sure this salad would also be good with normal, more boring greens.

Nutrition information (per serving)