A few weeks ago, my friend Nicole from PreventionRD made my day when she told me, “You have the best recipes!” That same day, she happened to post this phenomenal salad on her blog that made me feel the need the need to tell her, “No, YOU have the best recipes!”
“a paaar-tay in my mouth!” is how Nicole titled her post and that was plenty to draw me in. (In fact, I’ve used that title before too!) What would this party entail? Flavors bursting like a rowdy crowd yelling, “Surprise!!”? A combination of seasonal ingredients worth celebrating? Brightly colored produce strewn around like confetti?
Actually, it was all of the above.
This salad features fennel (a new love of mine!) and a bunch of ingredients I always have on hand: dates, sliced almonds, lemon juice, olive oil, and pecorino romano cheese (it actually calls for parmesan, but I always prefer pecorino.) All I had to pick up were olives and grapes. You might be reading this thinking, “do all of those things really go together?” The answer is, “yes, Yes, YES!”
I scaled the ingredients down a bit to make enough for two, and actually made this twice so I could tweak a few things and get it just right for our tastes. The first time, I decided make use of my mandoline (something I don’t do very often) and shave the fennel very thinly. Shaved fennel sounds fancier too, right? Well, all I got out of this was a reminder how much I hate my mandoline (maybe I’d feel differently if I got my hands on a fancy shmancy restaurant-quality one). And to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about the texture; I really wanted some crunch, a good bite, from the fennel. I also felt I used too many grapes and almost couldn’t taste the dates. So I made the salad again, favoring simplicity this time, and just thinly sliced the fennel. I also adjusted the amounts of grapes (a little less) and dates (a little more) to balance the flavors.
In the end, this salad was a celebration of vibrant flavors and textures, combining with just the right amount of sweet and salty contrast pulled together by the hint of lemon. Pair it with a simple protein (we salmon broiled with lemon slices) and let it be the life of the party.
Crunchy Fennel Salad with Grapes, Dates, Olives and Almonds
Original recipe from Mollie Katzen’s The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without
1/2 lb thinly sliced fennel (from 1 medium to large bulb)
3/4 cup (120gm) red seedless grapes, cut in half
2 oz green kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
4 dates, sliced thinly lengthwise
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz sliced almonds
3/4oz shaved pecorino romano cheese
Combine the fennel, grapes, olives and dates in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Just before serving, mix in the almonds and pecorino romano cheese.
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 22.6 g
Cholesterol: 9.4 mg
Sodium: 703.1 mg
Total Carbs: 39.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.3 g
Protein: 8.5 g