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Autumn Salads- bitter greens, figs, and current favourites

Posted by Sue Heward on

Last year I threw a packet of radicchio seeds in one of our beds, they grew profusely, all too crowded, but we loved the bitter (mostly green) leaves. This year a few plants self-seeded (with much more sensible spacing) and formed beautiful purple heads, nestled within the outer green leaves. I use it them all and below are two salad variations. Radicchio is from the chicory family, and bitter greens more generally are new to me. I did seek counsel from the ever amazing cookbook In Praise of Veg (Alice Zaslavsky) and Gourmet Traveller , which never fails me with ideas.

So here is my take on using bitter greens combined with our sun dried figs & quince and sticky quince syrup (perfect addition to any salad dressing among other things). A word on your salad potential overall bitterness, this depends on what greens you choice. Radicchio is my current favourite and what is growing in our garden but if you want something a little milder, go with maybe endive, romaine lettuce or a mix of them all.

These salads are great partners with grilled meats or roast meats, grilled haloumi, crumbled feta, lentils or yolky boiled eggs. 


Fig and quince salad with roast onions, pecans and radicchio

This is my take on a original salad by Mike McEnearney that you can find here


1 radicchio - I used the head and some of the outer greener leaves
2 small red onions, cut into wedges
4 fresh figs, sliced or quartered (if fresh fig season has past you can replace with more dried figs)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
4 semi sun dried figs thickly sliced
4 pieces of sun dried Smyrna quince, cut into strips
3/4 cup of pecans (approximately)
A few sprigs of mint, leaves picked, to serve
40g of marinated feta broken in pieces, to serve (my favourite is Meredith Marinated Goat Cheese for this salad)

Sticky Quince syrup vinaigrette (variation 1)

tbsp balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
tbsp sticky quince syrup
80 - 100ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon


Preheat oven to 150°C. For vinaigrette, combine vinegar, quince syrup, oil and lemon juice and whisk until oil is emulsified. Season to taste.

Separate radicchio into leaves and add into a bowl with a few pinches of salt and toss, then leave in a bowl until slightly tender (30 minutes).

Season onion with a little salt, drizzle with oil and roast in a roasting pan lined with baking paper until tender (30 minutes). If you are using fresh figs I add them into the mix at about the 15 minute point.

To serve, toss radicchio with a very small amount of quince vinaigrette and scatter on a serving plate. Toss onions and caramelised figs in vinaigrette and arrange over radicchio. Scatter the dried figs/quince and pecans on top and spoon over the remaining vinaigrette.Then top with mint and crumbled cheese and season to taste. I set aside a room temp for about 10-15 mins before serving.

Serves 4 adults easily as a large side salad.



Radicchio, capers, haloumi and preserved lemon salad

Thankyou Alice for your guidance on this one.


1 Raddichio - I peeled the outer green leaves, I’ve kept these and will use to cook with in another dish. Then individually separate the purple leaves right through to the heart and rinse.

1 quarter preserved lemon - skin and flesh all diced 

1 1/2 tblspn (approximately) capers

A handful of olives (Toolunka Creek are my local favourites)

200g halloumi cut into thick square slices (Barossa Cheese is my favourite) 

Sticky Quince syrup vinaigrette (variation 2)

tbsp red wine vinegar (or to taste)
tbsp sticky quince syrup
80 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Juice  and zest of one lemon


Preheat your oven at 170 degrees C with the fan on.  For vinaigrette, combine vinegar, quince syrup, oil and lemon juice/zest and whisk until oil is emulsified and season to taste.

Lay the haloumi squares in an oiled baking tray then sprinkle around the capers. Bake in the oven until the haloumi is browned on one side and then flip the pieces to lightly brown in the second side. 

Salad assembly:

  • Place your radicchio leaves in your serving salad bowl/plate one layer at a time.
  • Then sprinkle about 1/3 of your preserved diced lemon, capers, haloumi and olives.
  • Layer your next lot of Radicchio leaves, sprinkle another 1/3 of your lemons/capers/haloumi/olives and then I finished with a smaller layer of leaves and remaining toppings.
  • Lastly pour your dressing liberally right over the leaves and toppings (having a dish with sides helps here).
  • Season to taste.
  • I set aside a room temp for about 10-15 mins before serving.
  • We accompanied with grilled lamb.

Totally stunning flavours x


Autumn recipes quince salad

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