pear and fennel salad

It first caught my attention when this magazine heralded the salad dressing we can’t live without. I have been splashing it on anything in the salad family, using the term salad loosely, and a scant amount is awaiting my return from here.

Although making your own salad dressing isn’t so easy in crunchtime, I promise this one is a do-aheader that comes together in ten minutes.  It will dress up even the bitterest of winter greens for the next couple of weeks. We are showing it off in two salads: Fennel, Cucumber & Pear and Kale & Kumquat (upcoming).
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Today’s salad can be prepped honestly the day ahead if not more with a few tricks in storage. When does a salad ever hold up that long?  It is great for weekday rushes or when entertaining, so you don’t have to chop while your guests look on.  Was that my finger? These flavors of winter-ready vegetables and fruit combine perfectly; making you disbelieve you’re in the doldrums of winter produce.  Relying on pears for sweetness and pomegranates for color, this salad will brighten any table.

fennel, cucumber & pear salad

Preptime: 15 minutes                              Serves 8

2 lbs cucumbers, chopped in 3/4″ cubes (use English hothouse to avoid peeling)

1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2″ squares, fronds saved

2 pears

1/2 c pomegranate seeds

  • DO-AHEAD – Place chopped cucumbers in a resealable plastic bag. Place fronds from fennel in a resealable plastic bag. Place fennel in a large bowl of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to prevent browning; cover. Chill cucumber, fennel, and fronds overnight.
  • At serving time:  Peel pears and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups). If not serving immediately, spritz some lemon juice on pears to prevent them from browning?
  • Combine pears, drained fennel, cucumber pieces and and 1/4 c pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.
  • Add 3/4 cup Granny Smith Apple Cider Vinaigrette (below); toss to coat. Add more vinaigrette, if desired.
  • Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds and reserved fronds.

Granny Smith Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Preptime: 15 minutes

1 Granny Smith apple very roughly chopped (peel and core included)

1/4 apple cider vinegar

1 T fresh lime juice

1 T shallot, minced

1 t sugar

1/4 + 1 T safflower or grapeseed oil (canola or another light oil okay too)

  • Purée apple, cider, and lime juice in a blender, occasionally scraping down sides of blender with a spatula, until smooth.
  • Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (or mesh strainer) into a medium bowl, pressing down on solids with spatula to extract all juice; discard solids.
  • Whisk in shallot and sugar.
  • Whisk in oil a little bit at a time to incorporate.  Or if you’re rushed, shake it all in a sealed jar, preferably to a creative interpretation of Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer.
  • Season with salt and ground pepper – or salt ‘n pepper

Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2012 issue, by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

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