Sunday, January 29, 2017

Fennel, Pea, and Bean Salad with Bacon

Late January in Minnesota can be underwhelming - the fun and busy-ness of the holiday season is long past, the weather is dark, cold, and grey, and fresh, local produce is but a hazy memory.  However ... the days are getting longer (I actually donned my sunglasses on my way home from work one evening this week!), it's time to start planning for this spring's garden (and time to order seed potatoes and onion slips!), and thanks to local greenhouses and frozen produce, entirely possible to enjoy a crisp, fresh, abundantly GREEN salad loaded with the promise of spring.

YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c pine nuts
  • 1/4 c minced shallots
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c minced fresh chives
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed and drained
  • 1 large bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained
  • 1/4 c shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 bunch watercress, stemmed
  • 1 head bibb lettuce, cored and torn into small pieces
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

  1. Toast the pine nuts: heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Add the pine nuts and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and the pine nuts are golden brown.  Strain the pine nuts and shallots, reserving the oil.  Cool.
  2. Make the lemon-chive vinaigrette: combine the reserved oil, lemon juice, Dijon, chives, and salt and pepper in a pint-sized mason jar.  Puree and emulsify the vinaigrette using a handheld stick blender.  (Alternately, puree and emulsify the dressing ingredients in a blender or mini food processor.)
  3. Pack the salads: divide the vinaigrette evenly among 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the pine nuts, edamame, fennel, green peas, parmesan, mint, parsley, watercress, and bibb lettuce in the jars.  Divide the bacon evenly among 4 2-ounce jars or snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  4. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with bacon.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Use your favorite citrus-flavored vinaigrette in place of the lemon-chive vinaigrette. Toast the pine nuts in the microwave and omit the shallots. Use pre-cooked bacon.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS: For a vegetarian salad, substitute roughly-chopped smoked almonds, store-bought mock bacon crumbles, or coconut bacon for the cooked, crumbled bacon.  For a vegan salad, choose a suggested bacon substitute and also substitute store bought or homemade vegan parmesan crumbles for the shredded parmesan.  For gluten-free diners, choose mustard labeled "gluten-free."  Substitute unsalted sunflower seeds for the pine nuts to accommodate tree nut allergies.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

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