Heirloom Tomato and Sea Asparagus Salad with Balsamic Glazed Figs Recipe

My perfect day-off in Vancouver consists of an early jog around the Stanley Park seawall, followed by shopping for ingredients in Granville Island, and finished with a night in the kitchen with a loved one and a bottle of wine.

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My mind shoots off in a million directions as I cruise through the bountiful public market and simultaneously contemplate menu options. On Thursday, two charming boys were selling heirloom tomatoes from the Okanagan. Naturally, I was suckered into buying a Green Pineapple, some Black Zebras, and some Boxcar Willies.

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As I continued on, I considered the numerous possibilities to accompany these ripe beauties. Wild Morel mushrooms? Garlic scapes? To my surprise, I found their perfect partner in crime from the fish monger: sea asparagus.
I also picked up some mini Bocconcini for good measure.

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Tanginess from the vine-ripen tomatoes, check. Saltiness from the sea asparagus, check. Milkiness from the Bocconcini, check. I needed something sweet. Oh look, Figs!

Sea asparagus is a plant that grows in salt marshes and smells just like the ocean. It is naturally briny so use salt sparingly in this salad. Its crispy texture is comparable to young haricot verts’ and improves with a quick blanching.


  • 2 Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls of vine-ripen Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh Sea Asparagus
  • 1/2 lb. ripe Figs, quartered
  • 2 large Bocconcini or a dozen mini ones
  • 1 bunch of fresh Basil
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Slice the tomatoes thinly and fan them out on chilled plates. Chill them further in the fridge. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and chill in a separate bowl in the fridge.

Blanch the sea asparagus in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and shock the sea asparagus in an ice bath. When it is thoroughly chilled, drain on a paper towel.

Meanwhile, reduce the Balsamic vinegar to 1/3 cup, remove from the heat, toss in the fig segments, and set aside.

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Cut or tear the Bococinni into bite-size pieces. Chiffonade the basil leaves.


Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss the basil and sea asparagus with some olive oil, divide, and make small piles atop the tomato slices.

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Place the Bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, and glazed figs on and around the sea asparagus. Drizzle with some Balsamic reduction, crack on more fresh black pepper and serve.

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Tossed some crispy Japanese cucumber in with the left-overs for lunch the next day.
Serves 4

  1. July 10, 2009 by jenn

    This looks really lovely. I love the presentation and the colors on that plate. yummy!!!

  2. July 10, 2009 by jerri

    we have a fig tree in our backyard and i have been looking for something other than jam to make with them. this looks yummy. now i just have to find that asparagus…

  3. July 10, 2009 by rose

    WHOA that looks delicious! I love the figs & the heirlooms! YUM! Sea asparagus is totally new to me… Interesting. Beautiful presentation.

  4. July 10, 2009 by crankycheryl

    How beautiful. I must make this, though I’ll have to find a substitute for the sea asparagus here in landlocked Vermont.

  5. July 10, 2009 by Miranda Hagan

    This is one of the prettiest pics. I have ever seen on
    Beautiful. Not to mention it sounds tasty…Great Job

  6. July 10, 2009 by Sophia

    Why are you so brilliant? That combo sounds fantastic, and my eyes are practically popping out at the looks of that luscious figs…AMAZING photography! And way to experiment!

  7. July 10, 2009 by Cookin' Canuck

    Stunning photos! Within the first paragraph of your post, you made me very homesick for Vancouver. The sea wall, Granville, Island…

  8. July 11, 2009 by lisaiscooking

    What a lovely combination of great ingredients! Sounds just delicious.

  9. July 12, 2009 by Zahavah/Gayle

    gorgeous! congrats on top 9 (er, #1 baby!).

  10. July 12, 2009 by eatfoodrecipe

    OWWWWWOhhhhhhh! so yummy…combination perfecT!

  11. July 12, 2009 by Cucinista

    Sea asparagus! I’ve been going on and on about samphire this last month, had to explain what it was a few times, but maybe it just got lost in translation. What a fantastic ingredient.

  12. July 12, 2009 by Danielle

    I looove this! So simple, fresh, summery, colourful, with a gorgeous presentation! LOVE!

  13. July 13, 2009 by penny eisenberg

    lovely presentation. can’t wait to try it

  14. July 13, 2009 by Jessie

    first off I have to say, I love your photos! You really know how to capture images really well. Your photos are very inspiring!

    Farmer Markets are one of my favorite places to go to for fresh produce. They truly taste better than the produce you find in the local grocery stores.

  15. July 14, 2009 by Debi

    Fantastic combination of color, texture, and flavor in this salad! Saved this one as a fav.

  16. July 16, 2009 by Christine R.

    We call sea asparagus “sanfire” here in East Anglia, England. It adds a great salty crunch to dishes.

  17. July 19, 2009 by Kim

    The colors in this dish are amazing and I bet the flavors are amazing as well. Well Done!

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