I am a huge fan of fennel in all of its delicious forms – fennel is a spice, vegetable and an herb. As far as spices go, fennel is one of my favorites. It has a lovely mild anise/licorice flavor that pairs well with most other spices. Fennel as a vegetable is an anti-oxidant and also a rich source of both fiber and Vitamin C. In India, fennel is known as “badishep” in Marathi and as “saunf” in Hindi. The seeds are often eaten after dinner as a digestive aid. Fennel seeds and ground fennel powder are both readily available in any Indian grocery store or market.
My yummy Fennel & Arugula Salad is always a favorite among family & friends. It’s light, crisp and refreshing – just perfect for serving with any meal.
FENNEL & ARUGULA SALAD
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups baby arugula leaves
½ cup fresh orange segments
¼ cup Marcona almonds, lightly toasted & roughly chopped
¼ cup craisins
½ cup goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces
¼ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp freshly grated orange zest
½ tbsp orange blossom honey (or any flavor of honey)
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
freshly chopped fennel fronds for garnish
Trim and prepare the fennel bulb by removing the stalks first. Next, slice the bulb in half and remove the tough inner core. Then thinly slice the fennel, a mandolin works great for this task.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the orange juice with the orange zest, honey, ground cumin powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking all the ingredients together. Set aside until needed.
In a large salad bowl, combine the fennel with the shallots, arugula leaves, Marcona almonds and craisins. Toss well to combine and then add the salad dressing. This salad could easily be made in advance and dressed just before serving. Finish the salad with the orange segments and goat cheese, then garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.
There are so many variations to this salad and all of them are just delicious. Instead of arugula, feel free to use romaine lettuce, Bibb lettuce, lamb’s lettuce (or mache), butter lettuce, frisee lettuce or any mix of spring lettuces.
Instead of Marcona almonds - you could use cashews, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts or even regular almonds.
Instead of craisins, you can use chopped dried apricots or even golden raisins. You could also add freshly diced green apples, red pears, sliced strawberries or pomegranate seeds.
You could add red onion in place of the shallots. Also, you could add avocados or baby red/yellow tomatoes.