Citrus & Fennel Salad with Avocado
This incredible salad is an unexpected bowl of freshness that with each mix of its contents creates a richer and richer taste as the avocado and feta break down into the zesty, citrus dressing.
To me, this recipe is the epitome of California Cuisine, which is overflowing from within my bones as a native of its rich bounties. Take a moment and hop into the world where my tastebuds live and give this recipe a try!
Your tastebuds and overall health will thank you!
Citrus & Fennel Salad
200 g hearts of romaine cups (whole, broken apart) or little gems lettuce
100 g thinly shaved fennel (about 1 small bulb)
25 g shaved red cabbage (about 1/4 c)
150 g orange segments (about 2 medium) *this includes it's juice for dressing
170 g grapefruit segments (about 1 large) *this includes it's juice for dressing
50 g crumbled feta cheese (about 1/4 c)
80 g sliced avocado (about 1.5)
3 T pine nuts
salt & pepper
10 g chopped basil
remaining juice squeezed from the center of the citrus after segmenting (see below)
1/2 t zest of grapefruit
1/4 t zest of orange
2 T + 1 t olive oil
1 t mayonnaise
1/2 t dijon mustard
2 t aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling atop both bowls after plating in individual bowls
First things first, prep your ingredients. If you do not own a mandolin (click here to see what I mean) or some sort of slicing machine that slices/shaves rather on the thin side, you will need to slice some of your ingredients with a sharp knife as thinly as possible. Thick strips of raw fennel are less sexy because you get an overwhelming taste of only raw licorice-like fennel. What makes raw fennel so amazing is its ability to compliment other ingredients without overpowering them, which only happens when it's thinly sliced or shaved. The red cabbage will also be treated the same way. It's in the salad for extra health and color. Once shaved, throw them both into a big bowl where your citrus segments & juice will now go.
Zest a small amount of both the citrus for the dressing. I zest them completely as I use citrus zest often. It's great in yogurt bowls, pancakes, cakes, sauces and dressings of all kinds etc... If I ever have too much, I freeze them in ice cube trays and pop out the citrus zest cubes and keep in the freezer for 3 months in a zip lock bag.
Now, segmenting any kind of citrus seems hard if you have never attempted it, but once you watch a video on how to segment, it's quite simple to attempt and achieve. Until I start making my own videos, please click here and check out this one from my alma mater Le Cordon Bleu. While removing the segments, do this over a big bowl, as the juice will run down your hands and knife into it. Then squeeze out the remaining juice from the remaining center until all is gone. This juice is important as it makes your dressing. Chop your basil and add it as well. Season the ingredients in the bowl with a little salt & pepper and mix well. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.
Break off your leaves of lettuce and leave them whole. You can cut off the bottom of the head if needed and then roll the leaves out easily separating them from each other. Place the leaves in a big serving bowl.
After the 20 minutes are up, slice your avocado. Then, grab the marinated ingredients with your hand, allowing the juice to fall back into the bowl and place it atop the lettuce. Place the avocado on top of that. Then, crumble your feta and sprinkle your pine nuts like rain. For the dressing, you should have quite a bit of juice in the bowl. Add to it, the zest, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil and a little s&p. Mix it well before pouring it all over the salad. Before plating the salad in individual wide bowls (for better mixing while eating) mix it generously, then divvy it up between the two bowls. If you have some dressing still in the bowl, divvy that up between the two plates as well. Lastly drizzle 1 teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar above each plate. Then, serve and devour!