Green Lentil Salad with Roasted Cauliflower, Green Beans, Cipollini Onions and Walnuts

I feel really torn about the change in weather.  Don’t get me wrong–I love summer, sun, running outside without all those winter layers…but I will desperately miss sweaters, soups, and roasted vegetables that somehow seem too heavy when the thermometer stretches above 75 degrees.

For this weather I love “In-Between Salads”–a whole grain mixed with roasted veggies.  Warm enough to hit the spot on a still-cool evening, but light enough to be a quick lunch before heading off for a sunny afternoon jog.  This salad is made of green lentils and wonderfully roasted cauliflower, green beans, and the most amazing, sweet and melty cipollini {pronounced Chee-poh-lee-nee} onions.

If you’ve never had a cipollini onion, you’ve been missing out big time.  They are small, cute as a button, have more sugar than regular yellow or white onions and none of the crazy tongue-biting raw onionness.  The folks at Thekitchn wrote up a pretty great description here–full of juicy details like how to best peel them, why caramelizing them works wonders, and links to other great cipollini onion recipes.

Super simple, this green lentil salad comes together within 30 minutes, and can be served warm or cold.  green lentil salad 1


GREEN LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, GREEN BEANS, CIPOLLINI ONIONS, AND WALNUTS

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup green beans, trimmed and cut 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup cipollini onions, skins peeled but left whole
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Place the green beans, cauliflower florets, and cipollini onions in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and spread over a large baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway to evenly brown all sides.
  2. Prepare the lentils:  coat the bottom of a medium pot with olive oil, heat over medium-high heat.  Add the lentils and salt and pepper to taste, and quickly toast before adding the vegetable stock.  Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  3. Toss the lentils together with the roasted vegetables and add the chopped walnuts and serve.

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New Years Resolutions Schmesolutions

I’ve never been one for New Years Resolutions.  If I am going to do something, I am going to do something, regardless of any given arbitrary calendar day.  And you bet I’m going to stick with it.  I was so excited the first time I registered for a sprint distance triathlon–in the middle of spring, not January 1st.  I found the triathlon through some website and after reading up on it, decided right then and there it was something I could do.  At the time I was more a swimmer than runner, and as for biking…when I got home from work and excitedly told my husband what I’d registered for, he raised an eyebrow and said, “But Michal, you need a bike for a triathlon.”  Didn’t phase me one bit–I started training and ended up placing third in my age category.  {Let’s be honest, though…I think there was a total of three women competing in my category.}

So as far as making January 1st the super big end-all-pizza-eating-start-all-salad-eating-and-burning-1,000-calories-a-day deadline…I’m not a huge fan.  Habits are lifestyle choices and your lifestyle is chosen by your habits; in other words, if you aren’t a huge salad fan before January 1st, why would you be after?  And if you’re already a big salad fan, you’re going to be eating them year-round, not just in January.

I’m a big salad fan.  I especially love winter salads–they are warm and colorful and have such a deep flavor from roasting squash or potatoes, adding lentils, toasted seeds, a splash of citrus.  My Golden Winter Salad is a sweet ray of roasted vegetable sunshine that is sure to hit the spot for you on a grey January day.  Just look at it!

golden salad 1

First roast golden beets, carrots, yellow onions, and sweet potatoes.  They get so sweet, and a crispy on the outside, velvety on the inside texture.

golden salad ingredients

Peel and slice the beets–circles, triangles, squares, whatever shape you like in your salad.

golden salad beets

And just artfully arrange all the ingredients on a log slab from your backyard and dig in!  Couldn’t be easier to summon a ray of golden sunshine.  I guarantee you’ll be eating this more often than just the month of January!

golden salad 2


GOLDEN WINTER SALAD

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: an Easy New Year's Resolution
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SALAD

  • 3 small golden beets, washed and trimmed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in thirds
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thickly sliced (leave the slices whole, don’t pull them apart or they will burn while roasting)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch slices and then quartered
  • handful of walnuts per salad
  • sprinkling of feta cheese per salad (optional–vegan option would be to sprinkle Nutritional Yeast Flakes over the salad)
  • handful of mixed greens per salad

INGREDIENTS FOR THE LEMON VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • roughly 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the beets (left whole after washing and trimming the greens/stems), carrots, onion, and sweet potato in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and stir until all the vegetables are coated.  Pour onto a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. At the 20 minute mark, “stir” the vegetables on the pan–Because the beets are whole and the other salad components are sliced, there will be varying degrees of doneness.  Keep an eye on the onions, sweet potatoes, and carrots so they don’t burn.  If need be, flip them over with a spatula, remove them from the pan sooner than the beets, etc.  Roast the vegetables for another 20-40 minutes.  Done:  The onions will be melted and sweet, the carrots will be soft but not mushy, the sweet potatoes will have some caramelization and a velvety texture, and the beets will be soft when poked with a fork or knife.
  4. Let the beets cool, then peel and slice.  Place the beets, the rest of the roasted vegetables, walnuts, feta, and mixed greens in a large bowl.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, add the lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl.  Whisk in just enough olive oil until the mixture is emulsified.  Pour over the salad and gently toss.  Serve with toasted crusty bread and olive oil for dipping for an extra dash of sunshine.

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Brazilian Feast Part III: Recommendations

brazilian feast 1

I’m calling this “Recommendations” because I don’t think you’ll need a recipe.  Just recommendations for the salad, collard greens, mango, and goiabada “substitute”.

The salad is super simple and surprisingly delicious.  Just thinly slice a cucumber, tomato, and half of a medium onion.  Place in a bowl and squirt with the juice from one lime.  It’s bright, crunchy, fresh, and zippy.

The collards have a tough spine down the middle.  Cut around it (it’ll end up looking spear-like), pull it out, and roll up the leaf and slice to get thin julienned strips.  Just saute it up with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  If you wish to add a little more flavor, finely dice up carrot, celery, and onion to add while sautéing.  You’re going to saute it pretty quickly; no one wants mushy collards.

brazilian collards 1

brazilian collards 2

It’s hard to find tropical fruits {pineapple, mango, kiwi, etc.} that haven’t been picked way before their prime to ship here for US consumption.  I remember eating mangos and avocados the size of footballs when I was in Brazil.  I found slightly-larger-than-softball “Green Mangos” on sale at the grocery store, and thought I’d maybe make a green mango Thai salad or something, and then life got in the way and those poor mangos sat on my counter for a good week or more.  When I decided to make this Brazilian Feast, the mangos had ripened to these beautiful, golden orange, perfectly juicy, sweet mangos.  My one recommendation picking out fruit at the store:  smell them.  If they don’t smell like the fruit is supposed to smell like, I don’t get it.

And, finally, the best Brazilian dessert:  Goiabada.  This is kind of like guava jam and cheese on crackers, only the guava is a super thick, cuttable paste.  The cheese should be a soft, white, creamy cheese {traditionally a cheese from Minas Gerais is used}.  My American substitute?  Quince paste and Havarti cheese.  The Quince paste ended up being suuuuuuper sweet, way too sweet for me, but was a fun substitute nonetheless.  Next time I’m definitely going to have to find a specialty “South-of-the-Border” Grocery Store and try again for that traditional Goiabada taste!

brazilian feast 2

You Are What You Eat

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{Recipes + Photos featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

Dip anyone?  Two different pumpkin dips + homemade spinach feta bread = a pretty satisfying {vegetarian, not vegan} dinner.  Even the hubby, who normally complains he feels “suckered out of dinner” if I serve soup and biscuits, thought dip and bread was a score.  Now that I know that…

Dips are so easy–just fold together all the ingredients, pour into a baking dish, bake until golden and bubbly, and serve with crackers or toasty bread!  Your kitchen is going to thank you, your dinner table buddies are going to thank you, and you are going to thank you.

The first is a really creamy and briny Pumpkin Artichoke Dip, using a Zucca Rotondo Pumpkin, dicing it up and pan-roasting it for deeper flavor, then mixing it with the cream cheese mixture, marinated artichoke hearts, and sliced green onions.  Top with fresh green parsley, and you’re ready to dig in.

pumpkin artichoke dip ingredients

pumpkin artichoke dip

pumpkin artichoke dip with parsley

The second is a warm and hearty Savory Pumpkin Bake, using regular orange Sweet Pumpkin, pan-roasting it, mashing it, and mixing it with garlic and ginger then topping it with crispy crunchy melty bread crumbs and cheese.

savory pumpkin bake

savory pumpkin bake 2

Two Pumpkin Dips, fresh crusty bread–easiest dinner ever.

pumpkin dips


CREAMY PUMPKIN ARTICHOKE DIP

  • Servings: makes one 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 14oz can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 4 medium green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnishing

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 350.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium/medium-high. Pan-roast diced pumpkin with salt and pepper to taste until golden brown.  Turn off heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, greek yogurt, half-and-half, and salt and pepper to taste.  Beat with a hand mixer until well combined and creamy.
  4. Add the cheese, artichoke hearts, green onions, and pan-roasted pumpkin.  Gently fold together and pour into a greased 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish.
  5. Bake uncovered 10-15 minutes and the top is golden and bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley.

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SAVORY PUMPKIN BAKE

  • Servings: makes 1 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup dry milk powder
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated gouda cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 350.
  2. Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat to medium.  Saute diced pumpkin and onion with salt and pepper to taste until the pumpkin has a little bit of color.  Add 1 cup of water and let the pumpkin cook down until just softened,not mushy.  Put in a large bowl and mash the pumpkin–don’t let it get pureed or completely mashed, you want some texture and lumps to your dip.
  3. To the mashed pumpkin, add the ginger, garlic, melted butter, beaten eggs, and milk powder.  Mix well and pour into a greased 9-inch (1-quart) baking dish.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs and gouda cheese in a medium bowl, and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until well combined and spoon overtop the pumpkin mixture.
  5. Bake 20-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the cheese is melty.

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SPINACH FETA BREAD

  • Servings: makes 4 1-pound loaves
  • Difficulty: medium to hard, if you're new to bread making
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Adapted from Jeff Hertzberg’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day; I am treating this like “normal” bread dough and taking the time to let it rise twice before baking.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup packed cooked spinach, chopped
  • 2/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3-5 more cups of all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spoon the yeast into a very large bowl (I use a 32-cup Tupperware bowl), pour the lukewarm water overtop, and sprinkle the sugar over the yeast/water mixture.  Let is proof for about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and salt, and stir into a tick paste.  Add the spinach and feta cheese and stir.  Add at least 2 more cups of flour and turn the dough out on to a floured surface.  Knead for 8-10 minutes, adding up to 2-3 more cups of flour, until you have a soft and elastic dough.  Set back in your large mixing bowl, greased with olive oil, drizzling a bit more olive oil on top, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down and divide into four equal balls.  You can free-form bread balls, roll up and fit into a bread pan, or even roll into long french bread-type loaves.  Cover and let rise again, about 1 hour.
  4. Heat oven to 450.  Sprinkle bread with flour and using a serrated knife, make slices across the top of your loaves, if desired.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until crispy and golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Sweet Spot Salad

After all that pasta, I figure it’s time for a salad, right?  Crunchy greens, zingy red onion, red fall pears, sweet orange slices, and maple-glazed roasted pumpkin slices…YUM.  Oh wait, it’s also topped with roasted/salted pistachios.  Yum Yum.

You can prepare all your ingredients the day of, but if you’re strapped for time, roast the pumpkin over the weekend and pull it out when you’re putting together your salad during the week.  Slice up your pumpkin, mix up equal amounts of maple syrup and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, let the pumpkin slices swim around for a bit, and arrange on a pan.

jarrahdale pumpkin salad 2

jarrahdale pumpkin salad

After arranging the slices on the pan, pour a little of the magic overtop for optimum caramelization {otherwise known as yummylization}.  Roast for about 20 minutes, flip, pour the rest of the magic overtop, and roast for another 20 minutes.

jarrahdale pumpkin salad 4

jarrahdale pumpkin salad 5

Throw everything else in a bowl, gently toss, whisk up the orange vinaigrette, and serve with the roasted pumpkin slices.  Oh so satisfying.

jarrahdale pumpkin salad 3

jarrahdale pumpkin salad 6


 

MAPLE ROASTED PUMPKIN AND ORANGE SALAD

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SALAD

  • 12 slices pumpkin (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch in thickness)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 good handfuls of mixed greens
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange, sectioned, zested, and juiced.
  • handful of roasted/salted pistachios

INGREDIENTS FOR THE ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

  • Zest and juice from the orange
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • just enough olive oil to bring the vinaigrette together, maybe 1-2 tablespoons

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with roasting the pumpkin slices.  Preheat oven to 400.  Slice 12 1/4- to 1/2-inch pumpkin slices and put in a large bowl.  Whisk together 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then pour over the pumpkin slices.  Arrange on a roasting pan, pour half of the remaining maple syrup mixture  over the slices and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Turn the slices over, pour the remaining maple syrup mixture over the slices, and roast for another 20-30 minutes, until golden and caramelized.
  2. Put the rest of the ingredients, the mixed greens through the pistachios, in another large bowl.  When working with the orange, first zest it in another smaller bowl, then peel and section it, putting the sections in with the salad ingredients, then squeeze the rest of the juice out in the smaller bowl with the zest.  Orange slices with the salad; zest and juice with the vinaigrette.
  3. To finish the vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste with the orange zest and juice, then whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until it comes together.  Pour over the salad mixture and toss gently.
  4. To serve, evenly divide the salad between 2-4 plates and serve with 2-3 slices each of the maple roasted pumpkin slices.

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Whole Fast Food and Silly Americans

The first time I saw bulgur wheat I was 21 and living in Brazil.  I was serving a mission for my Church, and my companion, who was Brazilian (missionaries go two by two, and call each other companions), decided to make a salad for lunch.  We ate most lunches with members–it was a daily fare of rice and beans and salad with lime–but we supplied our own breakfasts and dinners, and lunches on our “Preparation day” (our cleaning/laundry/errand running/letter-writing day).  And as missionaries are on a strict budget, breakfasts and dinners had to be affordable.  I’ll be honest, we usually only bought mangos, bananas and popcorn, and if we had extra at the end of the month we would splurge and buy cheese and crackers, jam, or yogurt for smoothies.

For this particular meal, my companion made it extra special and bought tomatoes, cucumbers, and bulgur wheat.  When I asked her what it was and how to cook it, she gave me a look that required no words (English or Portuguese) “Silly Americans, do you not know what bulgur wheat is?!”, and then proceeded to say, “It’s so simple, you just pour the amount of wheat you want in a bowl, boil a little more water than wheat, pour it over, cover it, and when it’s done, just add your tomato and cucumber.”  So simple, so yummy!

I am sure not all Americans are silly, but I’d simply never been exposed to bulgur wheat.  Maybe I had, but just didn’t know it.  You know how it goes, you’ve finally left the nest, you’re out on your own, and the whole world seems new because you’re seeing it through your own new, grown-up eyes.

(Side story:  I was talking with a mom after I’d gotten home from Brazil; her son had served a mission in Mexico.  He came home saying, “Mom, they had the best kind of fruit there–it was like an orange, only much, much smaller!”  His mom was sure he was talking about clementines, but he insisted they weren’t.  The next time they went to the grocery store, he excitedly ran over to these amazing mini-oranges.  They were clementines.)

Anyway, I’d like to think I’m less of a silly American now, and bulgur wheat is usually in my cupboard for a quick go-to meal.

Bulgur wheat is also called cracked wheat, and it’s considered a whole grain, which means it contains the endosperm, germ, and bran of a seed.  And being a whole grain, it’s loaded with fiber, and also has a fair amount of potassium, protein, iron, zinc, and niacin.  It’s most traditionally used to make the Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, with loads of parsley, mint, lemon, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Bulgur wheat has a sweet, nutty flavor, and, like my companion pointed out, is super easy to make–probably the fastest whole food out there!  Which I hope will make you think twice the next time you feel like you only have time to do a fast food drive-thru run for a meal!

tabbouleh ingredients whole

For my tabbouleh, I used what I had on hand–you are going to see me saying this A LOT.  Use what you have on hand!  That doesn’t mean if you are out of curry powder to go ahead and substitute paprika, because that’s what you have on hand.  Spices are one thing, and veggies are another.  The purpose of this salad is to add some fresh crunch to accompany the bulgur wheat, and some citrus for zip.  Experiment with flavors you like–I had tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, celery, basil, and lemon.  If you have green pepper, red onion, olives, feta cheese, parsley and lemon, use that.  Or cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime, use that.  It’s a super simple salad that can take on many different flavors.  And on the side?  I had fresh farm-stand peaches.  Tasted just like summer!

tabbouleh ingredients chopped copytabbouleh 3tabbouleh 4


FAST FOOD TABBOULEH

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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The purpose of this salad is to add some fresh crunch to accompany the bulgur wheat, and some citrus for zip.  Experiment with flavors you like–I had tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, celery, basil, and lemon.  If you have green pepper, red onion, olives, feta cheese, parsley and lemon, use that.  Or cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime, use that.  It’s a super simple salad that can take on many different flavors.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat, uncooked
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup cucumbers, thinly chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped (if you can use the inside stems with leaves attached, the leaves will add more flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the bulgur wheat in a medium bowl with a lid.  Boil the water and pour over the wheat, then cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. While the wheat is “cooking”, you can get the rest of your ingredients chopped and diced. Place them all in a large bowl.
  3. When the wheat is soft, add to the large bowl with your veggies.  Add the lemon zest and juice, sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Stir and serve.

Serving suggestions:  You could just eat it as is, with a spoon, or scoop it up with crackers; Put it in a pita with spinach for a pita sandwich; scoop out a tomato and fill it with the tabbouleh for a “stuffed tomato”.

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Mystery Box Salad

Do you ever feel like dinnertime is a cooking show mystery box challenge and you have to throw ingredients together and whip up some fabulous meal before your husband kids… someone…votes you off the island?  Although timers and cooking-under-pressure aren’t really my thing, I think I would survive a mystery box challenge–I’m a stay-at-home mama!  I create my weekly meal plan based on the ingredients I have in my fridge and cupboards at the time, no more, no less, and it gets pretty creative sometimes.

I will either throw the lucky ingredients together for a great mystery box dinner…and cross my fingers…(Green salad mix?  Cauliflower?  Apricots?  Shrimp?  How about a homemade green spaghetti pasta with roasted cauliflower and shrimp in a garlic cream apricot sauce topped with sunflower seeds and fresh basil?), or grab one main ingredient I have and consult a cookbook.  Fennel bulb?  Snap peas?  Grapefruit?  I used Martha Stewart for this dinner salad inspiration, and adapted her fennel and snap pea salad to include a few more ingredients I had on hand, because fresh fruit always wants to join the salad party.

fennel snap pea salad beginnings copy

fennel snap pea salad

And seriously, what goes with a salad better than roasted sweet potatoes and homemade buttery croissants?  And I swear, taking a bite of the licorice-y fennel with the roasted, salted pistachios tasted exactly like bacon.  Great combo!

croissants


FENNEL, SNAP PEA, AND FRESH FRUIT SALAD WITH GRAPEFRUIT VINAIGRETTE

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Fennel and Snap Pea Salad from her Meatless Cookbook.  I used pear, grapefruit, and avocado as the “fresh fruit” portion of the salad, because that’s what I had on hand.  You could easily substitute nectarines, peaches, berries and lime or lemon (in the summer), or pears, apples, and oranges (in the winter).  Just be sure to include a citrus to section up in the salad and use the juice for the vinaigrette.

SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fennel bulb, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced
  • 2 grapefruits, sectioned and juiced (put juice in a smaller bowl for later use)
  • 1/2 cup roasted/salted pistachios

VINAIGRETTE INGREDIENTS

  • juice from two grapefruits
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

SALAD ASSEMBLY

Put all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste in the smaller bowl with the grapefruit juice, and whisk in the olive oil.  Whisk in just enough until the dressing comes together.  Pour over the fruits and veggies in the larger bowl and gently toss.  Serve with whole grain bread (or croissants!).

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