By Hannah Marcotti
I had that excited feeling you get when you can’t wait to share something really good. In this case it was a salad. Then I realized my salad wasn’t as unique as I thought. There are others out there equally creative as I am!
Okay, so I didn’t invent this salad. I Googled it as I was thinking what to call it and found that it already existed, in many places. This creative salad is called West Coast Waldorf on Oprah’s site. I’m calling my version simply, Waldorf Dessert Salad. It uses fennel instead of celery, which, as it turns out, has been thought of before! And it’s good enough to eat for a meal or dessert; or just make an extra big serving and have it for both. If you are eating it for dinner, add some goat cheese or sheep feta for a little something extra.
Last year, when those adorable little fennel bulbs started showing up in our CSA, people didn’t seem as taken with them as I was. I often overheard talk about all the reasons for disliking fennel as they walked to place it eagerly in the bin for unwanted vegetables. I was sure that these fennel haters had never had fennel sliced thinly and added to a salad with apples, oranges, and feta like the one my husband made me after my baby was born. Surely they would be craving it if they had. Or perhaps they never thought to add it to the pan when roasting chicken, potatoes, onions, and carrots? I’m willing concede that some may just not like fennel, but I will offer up a recipe to challenge even the most fennel phobic out there.
Fennel seeds are popular in sausages and for brewing tea that helps reduce bloating and gas. It is in my favorite toothpaste which my son calls “kale toothpaste.” The fronds can be used to add color and flavor to your dishes. The baby fennel bulbs work best for raw salads, but use what you have. The big ones tend to be a bit tough in the outer layer, so I would remove that. This salad is a take on Waldorf and is dairy and egg free. Try using any nuts or dried fruits you have on hand. Remember recipes are merely guides for your own creativity and for using what you have.
So now, tell me the truth . . . where do you stand with fennel?
Waldorf Dessert Salad
1 medium or two baby fennel bulbs, core removed, sliced thinly
¼ cup of fennel fronds, chopped
2 crisp apples, cored and cut into chunks
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped dried figs or apricots (or whatever dried fruit you have in the pantry) roughly chopped
½ cup sliced raw almonds or chopped walnuts
½ cup grape seed oil veganaise
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
Assemble salad in a bowl. Mix together dressing ingredients. Dress salad and let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Garnish with fronds from the fennel.
Hannah Marcotti is a holistic health counselor who loves creating exciting recipes and inspiring others to get into their kitchens and cook with whole foods. Through her counseling business, Hannah’s Harvest (www.hannahsharvest.com), she hopes to create a ripple effect of health and happiness in Providence and beyond. She shares her musings on life with three children and searching for that next perfect meal on her blog, Hannah’s Harvest Thoughts.