It's spring! Well, not really . . . it's still sort of winterish in Minnesota. Truthfully, I feel like I need to qualify this time of year as "early spring" -- the days are getting longer and the weather is slightly warmer, but you still need to check the weather every single day to figure out how to dress. Some days, you need your wool coat, some days you need a fleece, some days you need an umbrella, most days you still need a hat and mittens. It snowed last week, today it's going to be 60 degrees outside. You know . . . THAT time of year. :)
Regardless of the weather, the increased sunlight makes me feel lighter -- and consequently, I want to eat a lot lighter, too! Planning for big lunch-sized salads a few times per week helps ease the transition, and this week's salad was beautiful and light, but still hearty enough to get me through my afternoon.
Apple-Fennel Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
Serves 1, with plenty of leftover dressing
For the Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/2 small shallot
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbsp white-wine -or- champagne vinegar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c walnut oil
2-4 tbsp fennel fronds (optional)
For the Salad:
your favorite lettuces/salad greens (about 2 cups)
1/2 c thinly-sliced fennel
1/4 c sliced celery
1/2 an apple, chopped or sliced
1 oz walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1. Make the vinaigrette: combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a wide-mouthed pint mason jar, (or really any wide-mouthed jar -- old salsa and peanut butter jars work fabulously for dressings,) and whiz with a stick blender until creamy. Alternately, you could use a regular blender and transfer to a jar or bottle after blending, or finely mince the garlic and shallot by hand, then whisk the ingredients together in a bowl until emulsified.
2. Assemble the salad: layer your greens, fennel, celery, and apple on a plate or in a large salad bowl. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of the vinaigrette over your salad, or more or less to taste. (I find that a little goes a long way with most dressings!) Top with walnuts and blue cheese.
I love the crispy, crunchy, creamy, nutty, sweet, sour, and bitter balance happening in this salad -- there's a LOT of flavor going on, but the flavors all compliment each other beautifully. This is also pretty filling, given the protein in the walnuts and cheese, all of the fiber-rich veggies, and the healthy fats in the walnuts and dressing. Definitely a lunch to look forward to!
What is your favorite meal-sized salad flavor combination?